Fever sets league record with 11th consecutive playoff berth, routs Connecticut 81-51
The Indiana Fever (18-12) delivered a decisive drubbing of the Connecticut Sun (13-18) Tuesday night in Indianapolis, 81-51, to earn a playoff spot for the 11th consecutive year, a WNBA record. The franchise’s 11th berth breaks a mark shared by the Fever and the Seattle Storm.
Indiana raced out to a 17-7 lead in the first ten minutes, scoring in double figures in each quarter of the first half. At the break, they led 41-15. Connecticut’s 15 first-half points marked the second-fewest points the Fever have allowed in a half in franchise history and the lowest total by an opponent in any half at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Veteran forward Tamika Catchings led the Indiana with 13 points and six rebounds. Three other Indiana players were in double figures: Natalie Achonwa (11 points, 6 rebounds), Maggie Lucas (11 points) and Natasha Howard (10 points).
Kelsey Bone was the Sun’s top scorer with 17 points plus four rebounds. Jennifer Lacy joined her in double figures with 11 points plus four rebounds.
Indiana has now defeated Connecticut in five straight regular season meetings. The Fever swept the regular season series with the Sun for the first time in the history of the series that dates back to the 2000 season.
Indiana heads into the final two weeks of the regular season in a tight Eastern Conference race with the New York Liberty, Chicago Sky and Washington Mystics.
Indiana goes to Minneapolis to face the top team in the West, the Minnesota Lynx, on Friday. The Connecticut Sun will be in Texas playing the San Antonio Stars on the same day.
- The 30-point victory marks Indiana’s largest win of the season and the eighth victory in franchise history by 30 or more points.
- The 2015 playoff spot means 12 postseason appearances in the Indiana’s 16-year history. The Fever have reached the Eastern Conference Finals in seven of the past 10 years, with trips to the WNBA Finals in 2009 & 2012. Indiana won the WNBA title in 2012 with a 3-1 series win over the Minnesota Lynx.
- Stephanie White will make her first playoff appearance as a WNBA head coach. She reached the Eastern Conference Finals as a player with the Charlotte Sting in 1999, and reached the playoffs in each of the past four seasons as an Indiana assistant coach. Her 18 wins are the most by a first-year head coach in franchise history.
- Indiana’s 28 all-time playoff victories are third in WNBA history, with Tamika Catchings a part of every playoff game in franchise history. Catchings, the league’s career leader in postseason points, rebounds, free throws and steals, is eighth all-time in playoff victories.
- Five players remain from the club’s 2012 championship team – Catchings, Briann January, Erlana Larkins, Jeanette Pohlen and Shavonte Zellous.
Fever Head Coach Stephanie White
“It wasn’t the prettiest game. I felt like we found a way to make it through coming off of this rough stretch. We’ve been playing or traveling on every other day and we haven’t quite had a chance to recover. We haven’t quite had a chance to get any practice time in. And we found a way to make it through and to make plays that we needed to make to win. I felt like after that first four or five minute stretch where we didn’t seem to have any energy, we got some energy from our bench. They came in and were a great lift and we got better as the game progressed. We still had some slippage and some things that we are going to have to clean up, no question about it. But being that we played I don’t even know how many games in how many days, it was satisfying for us to bounce back.”
Fever’s Natalie Achonwa
“Just coming off that last couple of games that we haven’t been able to connect and we’ve had the three losses, it was just about playing hard today. Our first half, it wasn’t that pretty either. We were just kind of lucky they didn’t show up. We were just trying to work hard and make the hustle plays so that we could pull out the win after a three game loss.”
(On playoff positioning)
“It’s great that we accomplished that, with the 11th straight playoff run, but we’re not even there yet. We still have a couple of regular season games left. So we’re going to continue to compete and continue to fine tune things going into playoffs. So we have a lot of things that we want to continue to work on and make sure that we’re peaking at the right time for playoffs.”
Fever’s Maggie Lucas
“I thought as a team we knew we had to come out together and get back to the way we play. And everyone played their role really well tonight. They made a little bit of runs in the second half and we handled it and came right back.”
(On coming off the three game loss)
“It’s just nice to get back in our rhythm as a team, because it’s the end of the season. And now we locked up the playoff position. So that’s kind of a relief at the same time. Not that we didn’t think we were going to make it. It’s nice to know that now and use that momentum going the rest of the year.”
Sun head Coach Anne Donovan
“I just have to give them credit. They battled without January (Briann). I really felt like they were going to struggle offensively to find a groove. They struggled recently. I really felt like if we had the right mindset that we could overcome tonight. But their mindset was much stronger than ours, so give them a lot of credit.”
Sun’s Kelsey Bone
“We just didn’t have it tonight. Indiana played like a team that was trying to clinch a playoff spot. They played like a team that’s lost three in a row and they came out hungry and they were victorious. We got out-hustled, fought, any word you can think of, we got out-that tonight.”
(On the injuries)
“We’re injured. We’re missing important pieces, but we still have professional athletes that come to work every day. That’s no excuse for what took place tonight. It didn’t have anything to do with injuries. We’re still good enough to compete. We’re still good enough to get wins and we just have to figure that out.”
Sun’s Jennifer Lacy
“I guess we had a lack of defensive focus and offensive execution early in the game and we just never could recover from it.”
“It’s just kind of is what it is and we have to figure out a way to move on and finish the season to the best of our abilities. It’s really been unfortunate that we’ve had so many injuries. But we gotta find a way to finish the season strong.”
By the Numbers
Points in the Paint: Sun 22, Fever 40
Second Chance Points: Sun 4, Fever 13
Fastbreak Points: Sun 4, Fever 11
Biggest Lead: Sun 1, Fever 34
Lead Changes: 2
Times Tied: 0