INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Fever’s Game 4 win was anything but uncharacteristic. In fact, five of their six wins this postseason have come when the team is facing elimination.
And while Shenise Johnson was the player who was lauded for her play during the Fever’s third quarter run, head coach Stephanie White’s bench rotation made an enormous impact on the tone of the game. White called upon forward Natasha Howard – as she has all series – to play spot minutes at the end of the first quarter to give Tamika Catchings a breather.
Howard, described by teammates as a player with quiet confidence, came in and scored seven critical points.
“She’s just been staying ready,” Fever forward/center Erlana Larkins said. “She’s been capable of doing this. She’s kind of like the quieter one. She kind of needs something to get it out of her sometimes, but she had a great game tonight on both ends of the floor. She rebounded, she played great offense. We just appreciate her effort tonight.”
“When my name is called coming off the bench,” Howard said, “I’ve got to bring a lot of energy and just make sure that I’m ready to play the whole game no matter what.”
Clarendon also gave Indiana solid minutes when guard Briann January needed to rest. On one particular play, Clarendon quickly took an inbounds pass after a Lynx bucket, drove the floor and scored at the rim virtually uncontested.
“They were huge,” Clarendon said. “Just like Renee [Montgomery] and Anna Cruz come in for Minnesota, and Devereaux [Peters]. We have weapons on our bench as well, and tonight it was showcased with Natasha [Howard] coming in and playing huge minute for us. Layshia [Clarendon] coming in and giving Briann [January] a little break. We were able to maintain that and maintain the lead when our starters were on the bench. Our bench came through good tonight.”