July 23, 2005

Indiana 63, Charlotte 46

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Indiana Fever now know how to win even when Tamika Catchings has a low-scoring game.

Ebony Hoffman and Jurgita Streimikyte scored 13 points each to lead the Fever to a 63-46 victory Saturday over the Charlotte Sting.

Catchings managed just eight points on 3-of-9 shooting, but the Fever made up for it.

Before this season, Indiana was 1-6 when the three-time All-Star failed to reach double figures. This year, they're 6-0.

``It all starts with Tamika Catchings,'' Indiana coach Brian Winters said. ``Defensively she plays very well, she kept those stats up. I got a good performance out of my bench. We have a strong team one through 12. Our defense is really solid.''

The Fever (13-7), off to the best start in team history, limited the Sting to a season-worst 27 percent shooting to win for the fifth time in six games.

Tammy Sutton-Brown had 13 points and seven rebounds, and Sheri Sam added 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting for the last-place Sting (3-18), who lost their sixth straight after falling at Connecticut on Friday.

``That was a pretty poor effort,'' Sting coach Trudi Lacey said. ``I know we were fatigued, but we have to execute better offensively. We have to be a lot tougher and play a lot harder.''

The Fever outscored the Sting 19-5 in an eight-minute stretch to take a 32-19 lead. Hoffman had two putbacks in the spurt and rookie Tan White, the No. 2 pick in the draft, hit a 3-pointer.

Sting rookie Janel McCarville, the top pick in the draft, continued to struggle. She entered with 18:13 left in the second half and the Fever immediately went after her.

Streimikyte drove past McCarville on the way to a three-point play to make it 42-29. Thirty seconds later Streimikyte scored an uncontested layup after McCarville fell down in the paint. She was taken out a minute later.

``She has struggled with a back injury all season long,'' Lacey said. ``But with everyone on our team, it has to be a more focused effort.''

The Sting got within 51-43 with nine minutes left, but Hoffman scored on consecutive post moves in an 8-0 run to seal it.

Indiana, which has held opponents to 60 or fewer points in eight of nine games, limited Charlotte's WNBA-worst offense to 5-of-20 shooting in the second half.

``They were going man-to-man, they were going zone, they were just being aggressive,'' Sutton-Brown said. ``They're a good squad. We were getting good looks, but our shots weren't falling.''

Indiana, 2-0 in Charlotte this season after eight straight losses, moved within 2 1/2 games of Eastern Conference-leading Connecticut. Indiana will play at Connecticut on Tuesday.

``We had a long home stretch, so every game we win on the road now is important in making sure we make the playoffs,'' Catchings said.

No comments: