The unbeaten Indiana Fever and the winless Washington Mystics redefined sloppy basketball.
Their 52 combined turnovers Sunday night was a WNBA record for a non-overtime game, and the Fever set another league record by going the first 13:32 without a field goal. Still, Indiana got a season-high 20 points from Tan White and rallied to beat the Mystics 70-66.
"We were speeding the game up instead of taking care of the basketball and focusing mentally on what was out there. It was just sloppy play on both ends,'' said White, who led Indiana's comeback with 16 points in the second quarter.
"I was just doing whatever my team needed me to do,'' she said. "I was penetrating and making things happen and my shots were falling. I just got in a groove early.''
The Fever (4-0) had 10 of their franchise-record 29 turnovers in the first quarter and did not make a field goal until Tully Bevilaqua's layup at 6:28 of the second period. Washington (0-6), playing its second game under interim coach Tree Rollins, led by as many as seven during the first half, but Indiana stayed close at the free throw line.
The Fever hit 31 of 36 free throws in the game, including one by Tamika Catchings after Washington pulled to 67-66, and the final two by Sheri Sam with 12 seconds remaining. Catchings then stole the ball, her sixth steal of the game, and Indiana ran out the clock for the win.
Catchings added 15 points for the Fever.
"It wasn't for a lack of effort. I thought we played hard, but we just made so many mental errors,'' Indiana coach Brian Winters said. "The rash of turnovers, it was like an epidemic out there. We were just lucky to escape.
"I hope I never have to see it again, quite frankly. We were just lucky that we were taking it to the rim and got to the free throw line.''
The Fever hit all 12 of their foul shots in the first quarter, including two by Catchings with just over a second remaining to cut the Mystics' lead to 13-12. Two more free throws by White at the start of the second quarter put Indiana in front, but Washington built the lead back to 21-14 before Bevilaqua ended the Fever's 0-12 start from the field.
Washington led 29-28 before Indiana scored the final eight points of the second period, including two baskets and two free throws by White and two more foul shots by K.B. Sharp that made it 36-29.
The Fever never trailed again, taking their biggest lead at 56-46 on a basket by White at the start of the fourth quarter.
Washington, which was out-rebounded 31-20, is off to the worst in franchise history.
"We played hard,'' said Rollins, who took over last Friday after the abrupt resignation of Richie Adubato. "We're working new people in, and we're young. We need to work on rebounding the ball better.''