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Catchings, Fever Heat Up in 4th for Big Victory

July 18, 2014


INDIANAPOLIS -- Tamika Catchings and the rest of the Indiana Fever players were adamant it wouldn't happen again.

In eight games this season, Indiana has surrendered double-digit leads. In six of those games, the Fever went on to defeats.

This time, however, proved to be different.

After the visiting Chicago Sky whittled a 17-point deficit to five to end the third quarter Thursday night, Fever Coach Lin Dunn reinserted her starting five. As the Indiana players took the floor, they huddled. They encouraged each other. And then they rose up.

“We were all real determined,” Catchings said. “We were determined not to lose. … Looking in everybody's eyes, you just saw that fire.”

Indiana used that resolve to put away an 82-64 victory over the Sky. The Fever opened the fourth quarter on a 14-2 run, with Catchings contributing 12.

A game that had looked perilously close for the home team quickly developed into its largest winning margin (18) of the season as the WNBA heads into its All-Star Game break.

“Finish strong.” The Fever coaches made that a theme heading into the Chicago game. They got what they wanted; Catchings made sure of it.

The Fever star totaled 25 points, nine rebounds and four steals in just 28 minutes on the floor. She has scored at least 20 in four of the six games she has played since joining the lineup after a season-opening back injury. The veteran, who will be 35 in a few days, is playing some of the best basketball of her career.

Catchings said her plan is “to just be aggressive, take what the defense gives you. The biggest thing I've been able to do since coming back is just letting the game come to me and not trying to do everything.”

Catchings said her faith aided her in the return from injury. She also has pared her pre-game shooting and workout routine in order to be more energized at tipoff. Thursday night, it helped that Dunn and her staff kept playing time for all of the starters under 29 minutes.

“I think when Catch is not fatigued and not winded, she's as good as there is,” Dunn said. “And she certainly put on a show for us tonight with her ability to attack the rim and just get timely shots and play great defense.”

Catchings will play in Saturday's All-Star Game at Phoenix. So will her teammate, Briann January, who made the Eastern Conference unit for the first time. January will head to the game on the heels of a 14-point output on 7-of-8 shooting against Chicago.

“Good things happen when Briann January is on the floor,” said Dunn, whose team was without its starting point guard (knee injury) in a loss to Los Angeles on Tuesday.

The Fever team goes into the break with an 11-12 record, good for second in the East. Dunn noted she is “happy” with her team's position. After the All-Star Game, Indiana finishes the regular season with seven of 11 games on the road.

“We don't really fear going on the road,” said Dunn, whose club is 6-4 away from Bankers Life Fieldhouse and 5-8 at home. “Sometimes I think we get more rest on the road than we do at home.”

Thursday night, Indiana broke to a 45-31 lead at halftime despite the work of Chicago center Sylvia Fowles, who had 15 points and eight rebounds in the half. In the second half, relentless defense by Indiana's Erlana Larkins, who received help from reserve Krystal Thomas, held Fowles scoreless.

Allie Quigley came off the bench to lead Chicago with 17 points. Chicago lost its sixth straight game, falling to 8-14.

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