Fresh off the WNBA All-Star break, the Indiana Fever took to the floor at Conseco Fieldhouse on Wednesday afternoon for a special 1:00 p.m. tip-off against Connecticut Sun. The 77-68 defeat is not how the Indianapolis based women’s basketball team had hoped to start their second half.
It was a close contest throughout with the Indiana Fever holding the edge against their Eastern Conference rivals. But a putrid fourth quarter performance that saw the hometown Hoosiers start the quarter with an 0-10 shooting performance that saw their slim lead of 54-52 turn into a deficit of 63-54 due to an 11-0 run by the Sun.
The biggest individual star on Wednesday for the Connecticut Sun was French born Sandrine Gruda who finished with 21 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots. With the win, Connecticut moves to 11-8 while the Fever fall to 11-7 on the season. Indiana now holds a slight 0.5 game lead for third place in the Eastern Conference over the Sun.
The big three for the Indiana were stunned by the Fever’s fourth quarter performance on Wednesday afternoon at Conseco Fieldhouse.
The Indianapolis sports franchise seemed the better of the two teams through the first three quarters and lead by as many as nine in the middle of the second quarter. Yet they couldn’t pull away at any point, and it seemed as though the Sun waited until the benches got in the game to make their way back into the contest.
When the Fever starters came out in the fourth quarter as flat as they did, Connecticut was there to take advantage. After Jessica Davenport made two free throws with 9:36 remaining in the final period of play, the Fever didn’t score again until the 3:54 mark when Briann January hit two from the charity stripe as well.
The Fever pulled to 68-66 on a 3-pointer by Purdue University graduate Katie Douglas with 1:57 remaining, but the Sun came right back with Tina Charles’ jumper and Gruda’s two free throws to put the game away for good.
When asked after the game what was the biggest problem for the Circle City ballers in the loss, Tamika Catchings said, “When we needed to step up we didn’t, it is a simple as that, and it is disappointing.”
Catchings added, “Throughout the whole game we had a lot of lapses offensively and defensively. We didn’t do the things we needed to do… one of the things we have talked a lot about is rebounding and we just didn’t do that tonight. They had 19 second chance points off of 14 offensive rebounds, if we cut that in half we are talking about a win instead of a loss.”
Although bitterly disappointed in the loss, Catchings had another impressive performance as she lead all scores with 22 points and added nine rebounds, four steals, two assists and two blocks. Catchings also pulled down her 2,000th career rebound in the second quarter to become only the 10th women in WNBA history to reach the milestone, and the first in Fever franchise history.
But the personal achievement took a back seat to the final result. “To be in the position that we are in, to start off after the All-Star break with two home games and a chance to help our playoff position, to kick off this second half the way we did, I’m just disappointed.” Catchings added.
The Fever’s shooting guard Katie Douglas added 13 points, four rebounds, one assist and one steal in the loss while sharing in Catching’s disappointment. “We need to stop talking about what we need to do in order to win and just start doing it,” she said in the locker room.
Indiana forward Ebony Hoffman added 11 points as did backup guard Briann January to be the four Fever players to finish in double digits.
The 10,076 on hand at Conseco is the largest regular season crowd the Fever have had since May 27, 2008. The Indiana Fever are now 7-2 at home during the 2010 season.
The Indiana Fever are back at it Friday night in downtown Indianapolis as they play host to the Eastern Conference leading Atlanta Dream. The Dream bring their 14-6 overall record to Indy for a battle between two of the best teams in all the WNBA. Game time is 7:00 p.m. and will be a must-see Indianapolis event.