WASHINGTON(AP) Tamika Catchings scored a season-high 28 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and was 14 for 14 from the free-throw line as the Eastern Conference-leading Indiana Fever defeated the Washington Mystics 82-70 on Tuesday night.
Catchings also had three steals on her 30th birthday as the Fever (12-3) used their pressure defense to force the Mystics into committing 20 turnovers and turn a five-point, fourth-quarter lead into their seventh double-digit win of the year.
"(Defense) is what we want to be known for,'' Catchings said. "The first two games of the season we are 0-2 off the bat. One of the things we talked about in the locker room was what do we want to be known for. Play defense. Sounds so simple, but it's just so hard. Once we made the commitment to one another to be there and have each other's back, that's how we play.''
Lindsey Harding led the Mystics (7-7) with 17 points, but also had seven turnovers. Crystal Langhorne added 15 points and Alana Beard, who will join Catchings in the Eastern Conference starting lineup for Saturday's All-Star game, had 13 points and nine rebounds.
"We knew that they were a good defensive team, we knew they were going to go for steals,'' said Harding. "We talked about shortening up our passes a lot. The times we did, we got open shots and other times we got lazy.''
Including Tuesday's game, the Fever and Mystics play three games in 12 days.
Catchings made a concerted effort to get to the rim after scoring a season-low five points in the Fever's loss at Connecticut on Sunday, which snapped their 11-game winning streak.
"Tonight I wanted to kind of redeem myself to my teammates and get to the basket more and try and get to the free throw line,'' said Catchings, who started 1-of-7 from the field against the Mystics.
Ebony Hoffman and Tammy Sutton-Brown each scored 16 for the Fever. Katie Douglas was held to a season-low eight points, the first time this season she has not scored in double figures.
Indiana closed the first half on a 12-4 run over the final 4:35 to lead 41-34 at halftime. Catchings scored 12 points in the first half, eight in the second quarter.
Washington is 2-2 on their current six-game homestand and have lost five of six to Indiana at home.