WASHINGTON, June 8 (AP) -- Tamika Catchings had 24 points and 12 rebounds for the Indiana Fever, who nearly lost an early 18-point lead before holding on for a 74-69 victory over the winless Washington Mystics on Friday night.
The Fever led 37-19 in the second quarter and by as many as 13 points in the second half. The Mystic trailed 53-44 after three quarters when Beard scored six points in an 11-2 run, including two free throws that tied that score at 55 with 4:41 remaining.
Tied at 60 with 3:15 left, Catchings hit her second 3-pointer of the game to give the Fever the lead for good. After a layup by James cut the lead to one, Catchings, who had 12 points in the fourth quarter, hit another 3 with 2:08 left to make it 68-64. After Beard, who scored 17 points in the second half, made a layup to cut the lead back to two, Catchings hit two free throws with 1:08 left and the Mystics would get no closer.
The Mystics entered the game as the lowest scoring team (70.5) in the league and their struggles on offense continued. They opened the game by missing 14 of their first 15 shots from the field and fell behind 20-8.