It was an inspiring performance by Tamika Catchings in her final road trip to Chicago on Wednesday afternoon (Jun. 29) and her first game following the loss of her former coach, Pat Summit. Catchings netted 26 points (7-for-11) to go along with five rebounds and four assists as the Fever never trailed in their 95-83 win against the Sky.
“It was a great day,” Catchings said. “I’m very happy. Really, my motivation was two-fold. First, just for Pat (former coach Pat Summitt), I wanted to play well for her. Second, I wanted to do well, playing back here in Chicago for the last time. I am thankful I had a good game and we pulled out a win.”
The offense was clicking again for Indiana as they scored more than 90 points for the second-straight game. The Fever shot 47.8 percent from the floor and 46.2 percent (6-for-13) from beyond the arc.
They also shot a remarkable 92.6 percent (25-for-27) from the free-throw line. Combined with a 26-for-28 performance in Dallas last Saturday, the Fever are 51-55 from the line in the last two games.
Chicago’s Elena Delle Donne had 21 points and six rebounds while Indiana held Cappie Pondexter in check with just 12 points on 3-for-11 from the floor.
Erica Wheeler got her third-consecutive start alongside Briann January in the backcourt for Indiana. She scored 10 points–her third-straight double-digit scoring effort–and dished a career-high nine assists from the point guard spot. She also collected three rebounds. January went for 12 points, four assists and three steals resulting from her high-pressure defense.
“Erica Wheeler played great,” Fever head coach Stephanie White said. “She had great efficiency. And Tamika Catchings, wow. C’mon, seriously? She was inspired. Twenty-six points, five rebounds, four assists and no turnovers. She played great.”
Erlana Larkins nearly notched another double-double as well. She scored 15 points on 6-for-11 shooting and corralled nine boards in a team-high 35 minutes. Larkins was instrumental as the Fever outrebounded Chicago, 34-24.
The Fever jumped out to an early 6-0 lead just two minutes into the game. A pair of scores from Lynetta Kizer and defensive plays from January sparked the early run. After Delle Donne netted Chicago’s first score, January found Catchings for her first of two threes in the quarter en route to a 22-15 Fever lead.
Chicago brought the score as close as five (35-30) in the second quarter but Indiana held the Sky at arm’s length thanks to an impressive 3-point shooting display (50.0 percent), resulting in a 44-38 halftime advantage.
Catchings poured in 14 first-half points on 4-for-6 shooting. A host of Fever players hit the locker room with six points apiece, including both January (four) and Wheeler (five) who combined for nine assists in the half.
A 31-point third quarter broke the game open for Indiana. Catchings added another nine points in the period and stayed perfect from three-point range (3-for-3) through three quarters, giving Indiana an 11-point (75-64) cushion entering the fourth.
With a 79-66 lead at the seven-minute mark, Catchings found Tiffany Mitchell for a veteran-rookie connection. Mitchell buried a corner three and gave Indiana a 16-point lead (82-66). Moments later, Catchings put the exclamation point on the day with a spinning scoop lay-up and-one.
The Fever cruised through the final six minutes for a 95-83 victory; a win for Catchings in her final visit to Chicago.
“We did a lot of things well today, and anytime you get 24 assists on 32 field goals, you know you’re moving the ball well,” White said. “We shared the ball, we played with great spacing, we attacked the rim and we outrebounded a very good team.”
The win snapped a five-game regular-season losing streak to Chicago dating back to 2014.
Indiana improved to 7-9 while dropping Chicago to 6-9, swapping places in the Eastern Conference. The Fever will be back in Indianapolis at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Friday (July 1).