Indianapolis — The Indiana Fever rolled the Dallas Wings 83-60 in the regular season home finale of the Tamika Catchings era on Sunday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
A white-out, numerous tributes to No. 24 and a post-game ceremony bookended a 16-point, seven-rebound performance from Catchings on the court. The 16-year veteran and all-time steals leader also tallied a pair of takeaways in a runaway win.
“I think you knew she was going to come out with a high energy level,” Fever Head Coach Stephanie White said. “She competed. She did everything she’s always done.”
The Fever shot 47.1 percent while holding Dallas to just a 31.7 percent mark. Indiana also assisted on 25 of 33 made field goals. The bench scored 55 points and they outrebounded Dallas 40-30 on the glass.
Lynetta Kizer scored 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting for Indiana while a total of four Fever players reached double figures, including Natalie Achonwa and Tiffany Mitchell with 12 apiece. Shenise Johnson scored nine points in a well-rounded game with five rebounds and five assists as well. Erlana Larkins grabbed nine boards and Briann January tossed eight assists.
“We wanted to honor Tamika by competing at a high level,” White added. “Getting contributions from so many players was important. We’re going to need that come playoff time.”
Karima Christmas led Dallas with 12 points and five rebounds. Indiana held Dallas point guard Skylar Diggins in check with just six points, four rebounds and four assists.
In a fitting start, Catchings scored the game’s first bucket before connecting at the free-throw line, making her the first player in WNBA history to reach 2,000 free throws. The star of the night tallied eight points and grabbed four boards in the opening quarter en route to a 21-18 Fever lead after one quarter.
An quick Indiana run to open the second quarter lifted the Fever to a double-digit cushion. Achonwa was the main scorer during the key run, eventually netting 10 of her 12 points on five consecutive makes.
A 12-2 run to end the period put Indiana in complete control of a 45-26 score at halftime. Dallas scored just eight second-quarter points.
A 3-pointer from Mitchell pushed the Fever lead to 25 late in the third quarter and the rout was on. Indiana cruised through the final quarter and change, making way for Catchings to re-enter and exit to a standing ovation with 1:33 to play.
“I needed them to let us keep playing there at the end,” White said. “That moment, it was tough. It was emotional. None of us are just losing a friend or a teammate, but we’re losing an impact in our everyday life. This game is losing an impact person more so than an impact player.”
Catchings will play at least one more game in her WNBA career, but she ends her final regular season game as the WNBA leader in rebounds, steals, free throws, second all-time in points and top-10 in virtually every category.
“I’ve been suppressing the thought of this the entire season,” January said. “It was just tough. You have someone so great here with you and you just want to make the most of all those moments.”
The win capped Indiana’s regular-season record at .500 (17-17) and secured a date with either Phoenix or Seattle on Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the first round of the playoffs.
The Fever have won at least one playoff game in nine consecutive seasons. It’s also Indiana’s 12th consecutive trip to the postseason. The only teams in professional sports with longer active streaks are the Detroit Red Wings (25) and San Antonio Spurs (19).