Fever Struggle, Fall to 0-3 for Year

By Tom Rietmann | May 23, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Fever squad teased its fans on Friday night with a brief run of points here or a flurry of solid defense there.

In the end, however, those 5,632 fans -- and the team itself -- departed Bankers Life Fieldhouse with an unsatisfied feeling. The Washington Mystics thumped Indiana, 79-63, in a game in which the Fever went down by 18 late in the first quarter and never really challenged.

Indiana, which plays at Atlanta on Sunday night, is 0-3 and mired in its longest winless stretch to start a season since the 2001 club opened at 0-5.

Fever Coach Lin Dunn didn't mince words afterward.

“(The Mystics) jumped all over us from the beginning,” Dunn said, “and I did not think we met their sense of urgency. To be honest with you, I'm very disappointed that we didn't play at a higher level.

“It's been a long time since I've seen a Fever team with this little effort,” Dunn added.

Indiana played its third straight game without star forward Tamika Catchings, who has a back injury. Catchings isn't expected to play at Atlanta and may not be available for Indiana's home games against Connecticut (May 29) and New York (May 31).

On Friday, Catchings' scoring and all-out intensity were sorely missed. Rookie Maggie Lucas led Indiana with 12 points, and Briann January totaled 10. They were the only Fever players in double digits as Indiana shot just 34.8 percent from the field (24-of-69) and 60 percent from the free throw line (12-of-20).

“It was not just one thing,” Dunn said. “(It was) missed free throws, missed open shots, missed layups, missed defensive assignments. Everything was out of sync.”

Washington (1-1) put four players in double-figure scoring: Bria Hartley (15), Ivory Latta (11), Tianna Hawkins (11) and Kia Vaughn (10). The Mystics surged to a 26-8 lead before the first quarter went into the books.

“Washington brought it today and it took us awhile to match their intensity and focus,” January said. “We learned a lot about ourselves today. We're going to take it and get better like we always do. We know what we need to get back to.”

Lucas proved to be a bright spot for Indiana. A two-time Big Ten Player of the Year at Penn State, she was acquired from the Phoenix Mercury in a trade just before the regular season began. Lucas scored all 12 of her points, her first double-figure game as a pro, in the fourth quarter.

“We like how hard she plays,” Dunn said. “We like the fact that she can hit an open shot. I think it's fair to say that, at times, we're struggling with people knocking down open shots.”

Lucas is happy to have an opportunity in Indiana.

“I feel like I'm really lucky to be in the spot I am. I have great teammates,” said the 5-foot-10 guard. “The whole team has been helping me out to learn the plays.”

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