Catchings passes Taurasi on all-time list, hits game winner as Fever beat Sun 75-73 in OT
UNCASVILLE, Conn. – In a road win over Connecticut Tuesday night, Indiana Fever star Tamika Catchings’ first basket of the game moved her past Diana Taurasi into second place on the WNBA all-time scoring list. Her final basket won the game for the Indiana Fever in overtime, 75-73 before 4,868 people in rescheduled contest originally slated for July 18. The Fever snapped a two-game losing skid and beat the Sun on the road for the second time this season,
In typical Catchings fashion, she downplayed her record-breaking performance.
“Records are meant to be broken,” she replied when asked of passing Taurasi, “that’s why they’re there. But it’s pretty cool for now. It’s kind of overwhelming.”
The Fever opened the game with an 11-0 run before Camille Little’s first basket for the Sun. Slowly the Sun whittled down the lead. Despite only shooting 39 percent, Indiana dominated the offensive boards early, a trend that would impact the entire game, pulling in four offensive rebounds in the quarter.
It was more of the same in the second quarter, and at the half Indiana led the second chance points over Connecticut 11-0. The Fever went into the break with a 42-34 lead. Guard Shenise Johnson, returning to the lineup after missing several games, was an impact player from the opening tip, scoring nine first half points to lead the Fever, hitting 4-of-6 shots.
The teams continued to warm up in the third quarter, as the offenses showed improvement, with both squads hitting over 50 percent of their shots, and Indiana continuing to control the offensive boards. The Fever’s Shavonte Zellous, injured for a good part of the year, had a personal 6-0 run, increasing Indiana’s lead to eleven before the Sun cut it to six at the end of three, 60-54.
The fourth quarter showed both teams to be more sluggish offensively. Connecticut held Indiana to only seven points for the quarter, forcing shot clock violations and missed shots. When Kelsey Bone laid in the ball with 3:49 left the Sun had the lead, 65-63. Only six points were scored the rest of the way, and another Bone layup forced overtime at Mohegan Sun.
Zellous continued her hot shooting in overtime, hitting the first two shots to give the Fever a four point lead, both shots beating the shot clock buzzer by a narrow margin. Bone made three-point play the old fashioned way and a Camille Little three-point jumper gave the Sun a 73-71 lead setting the stage for Catchings’ theatrics.
First, she followed Little’s three with a beautiful reverse lay-up to tie the game. After the Sun turned the ball over, Johnson took a jump shot, and Zellous was fouled following up the miss with a putback attempt. However, Zellous was not given foul shots, giving the Fever the ball with 18 seconds to go. Catchings drained the step back jumper to give the Fever the final margin of victory. Jasmine Thomas’ heave was off and the Fever escaped with a hard-fought victory.
According to Fever coach Stephanie White, the referees informed her the rule is a tip in can never be considered a shot attempt when they are fouled, unless the player trying to make the tip makes the shot. Had Zellous gotten two foul shots, the Sun would get the ball with 18 seconds to go. Instead they got it after Catchings’ heroics and no time outs remaining.
Zellous finished with 19 points and nine rebounds, while Johnson had 13 points and seven rebounds. Catchings finished with 15 points and eight rebounds.
“It’s huge,” White said about having Zellous and Johnson healthy. This was the first game Indiana had 12 healthy players available. “They are both playmakers, and having them on the floor gives us multiple options offensively, and take some pressure off of Catch.”
Postgame Sun coach Anne Donovan refused to make excuses, but did explain that All-Star Alex Bentley was ill, and did not practice on Monday.
“Alex (Bentley) has been ill,” Donovan said. “I am not trying to make excuses, but we scrap and claw to get back in the game and we were not at full strength. This team needs to be at full strength for us to compete and win games.”