INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Fever’s season was on the line once again Sunday night, and many felt the Minnesota Lynx would take care of business on the road. But who are we to doubt this resilient Fever squad?
Indiana staved off elimination for the fifth time this postseason Sunday night to force a winner-take-all Game 5 on Wednesday night in the WNBA Finals 2015 presented by Boost Mobile. The 75-69 win moves the Fever to 11-2 all-time in elimination games at home and 9-2 in their last 11 overall.
Sunday’s win was seconds away from taking a completely different shape. Minnesota trailed at halftime but stormed out of the locker room to take a 38-36 lead. Fever head coach Stephanie White called a timeout and lit a fire under her team.
“Steph went off on us and basically just challenged us,” Fever forward Tamika Catchings said. “[White] said, ‘you guys have 30 seconds to turn this thing around.’ Literally, we went out, and she just lit a fire up on us, and she was just like, ‘this is a game to allow you an opportunity to play for a Championship, and this is how you want to come out?’ Those are my nice words.”
Catchings, who set a playoff record for career starts at 65, has yet to have a game this series where she was the star of the evening. She’s been effective in a number of ways, but Indiana has gotten major performances from a host of other players.
That player was Shenise Johnson this night.
After that initial timeout, the Fever went on a run, at one point connecting on eight consecutive shots, to open up a double-digit lead. Marissa Coleman hit a couple of tough jumpers along the way, but it was Johnson who took hold of the game and paced the Fever offense.
“Just being aggressive,” Johnson said of her play in the second half. “I can’t really say anything switched or changed. We’re not ready for our season to be over. We pushed this thing to one more, and we definitely didn’t want them to win on our home court.”
Johnson scored in double figures for the fourth consecutive game and the ninth time this postseason. On the heels of her best regular season to date, Johnson has thrived in White’s offensive system. Catchings, the obvious heart and soul of the Fever team both on and off the court, has challenged Johnson and others to believe they are great.
“I know Shenise is going to be modest,” Catchings said, “but the one thing that I challenged her all season long is you are a good player that has potential to be a great player. If every single day your mentality will be that I am great, there is nobody that can stop you. You see that in a little wave. She waited until the second half, but we need her to do that for 40 minutes next game. I’m just saying.”
“I’ll take that challenge,” Johnson said with a smile.