The Indiana Fever were just 40 minutes away from winning their first WNBA title in franchise history. The stage was set for what could have been a coronation for the queens of Indianapolis. A sold-out crowd was packed into Conseco Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis just waiting for an excuse to tear the house down. The city was looking for its first major basketball championship since the Indiana Pacers took the 1973 ABA title. Only problem was, the Phoenix Mercury didn’t feel the need to play dead.
After the final buzzer, the score was 90-77 , and it was not in the Fever’s favor. The Mercury jumped out to an 11 point lead by the end of the first quarter, which left the darlings of the Indianapolis sports world playing catch-up the rest of the game. By halftime, the Indiana Fever had cut the deficit to only two points and headed towards the locker room down 49-47.
As the third quarter got underway,the hometown team kept it close, and even tied the score at 59-59 with 4:33 left on a Tamika Catchings layup. Phoenix responded with a 6-0 run and the Fever ended the 3rd down 72-65. The final frame provided little joy for Fever fans as the visiting team proved to be too much tonight, and the score was never close again.
But fear not Indy, all is not lost just yet. Our collective Hoosier hopes of a championship parade around Monument Circle are still alive. A winner takes all Game 5 will take place on Friday at 9 p.m. down in Phoenix. Several key factors the Fever need to continue or improve on in order to come home victorious this weekend, are same issues we have seen before.
Tamika Catchings will need a performance similar to tonight’s where she went off. Catchings tried to put the Indiana Fever on her back and carry them to a title with 24 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 1 block. There were stretches during Game 4 where Tamika seemed to be involved in every play on both ends of the floor. In contrast, Indiana native Katie Douglas could not seem to get it going all night and finished with just 7 points in 35 minutes.
One area that Douglas could help her team most is from behind the 3-point line, where the Fever shot an appalling 11.1% hitting just 2-18. Indiana will also need to improve from the charity strip, where they shot 77.3% only hitting 17 of their 22 free throw attempts. These are free points that the Fever will have to capitalize on against the high-powered offense of Phoenix. Finally, what has been the difference maker in this series has been the Indiana bench. Tonight the bench only scored on 2 of their 16 shots and will need to come up big Friday if the tinker-tape should fill the streets of Indianapolis.
Check back Friday morning with funcityfinder.com to get a full preview of Game 5 of the WNBA Championship series.