SEATTLE – Rookie center Teaira McCowan scored 22 points and added 19 rebounds Sunday afternoon to lead the Indiana Fever to a 63-54 road win over the Seattle Storm. McCowan finished one rebound shy of becoming the sixth player in league history with 20 points and 20 rebounds in the same game.
Indiana (10-19) snapped a three-game losing streak overall and ended a string of five straight losses to the Storm. Earning their fifth road win, the Fever stayed in the hunt for the league’s final playoff position by evening its record at 4-4 since the WNBA All-Star Break. The defending champion Storm (15-14) clinched a playoff spot earlier in the day by virtue of a New York defeat.
McCowan’s 19 boards eclipsed her own Indiana rookie record and were the second-highest figure in Fever history. She moved into 10th place on the Fever’s single-season rebounding list with 245 for the season. With five games remaining, she needs 32 boards to break the club’s rookie rebounding mark of 276, established by Tamika Catchings in 2002.
The low-scoring, physical contest featured just 29 percent shooting by the Storm, the lowest by an Indiana opponent all season. Indiana’s consistent defensive effort forced Seattle into 16 turnovers. Behind McCowan, Indiana controlled the rebounding edge, 41-33.
“We had a consistent defensive effort throughout,” said Fever coach Pokey Chatman. “I thought we stayed disciplined and didn’t make the same mistake twice.”
On McCowan, Chatman added, “Even when we’re asking her now to guard some 4s [power forwards Natasha Howard and Crystal Langhorne today], she’s no longer getting into easy foul trouble like she did earlier in the year. That’s a sign of her improvement. She’s staying strong for us in tougher matchups, and you can see what it means having her stay on the floor.”
Indiana assumed its largest lead at 46-33 on a Kennedy Burke 3-pointer with 2:20 left in the third quarter, and while Indiana was unable to stretch that lead, the Storm never got closer than eight points until there was less under a minute to play.
“We played team ball and kept our intensity the whole game,” said McCowan. “Even when [Seattle] cut the lead, we never got scared. We didn’t let up. We kept playing our game.”
The Storm crept within single digits on four different occasions in the fourth quarter, but each time the Fever answered with a bucket to maintain the lead of 10 or better. Howard’s free throws with 17 seconds remaining brought the Storm within 59-52 as Seattle’s comeback fell short.
Howard paced the Storm with 14 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
The Fever got 13 points off the bench on 6-of-12 shooting from Kelsey Mitchell, and 12 from veteran forward Candice Dupree. Burke, making the second start of her career, added seven points, five rebounds and three of the Fever’s 10 steals.
Indiana shot 45 percent in the first half to command an 11-point lead at intermission. The Fever used a 10-2 run to lead 28-18 and rode the play of McCowan in the paint. McCowan contributed 16 points and 11 rebounds before halftime to record her seventh double-double of the season.
She shot 9-of-15 from the floor to record the second 20-point scoring game of the season.
The Fever return to Indianapolis to host the Las Vegas Aces on Inspiring Women Night, Tuesday, at 7:00 p.m. Indiana welcomes a pair of opponents this week while also battling the Los Angeles Sparks, Thursday.