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Fever vs. Mystics Round 1, Game 1 final score: Catchings leads Indy to grit out a 78-73 win

For a sec there, the Mystics looked like they were gonna win. But no cigar.

The Indiana Fever made a 10-0 run late in the fourth quarter to turn a 61-60 deficit with 4:18 left, into a commanding lead 70-61 lead with 1:40 left. In that timeframe, the Washington Mystics committed turnovers in three straight possessions. End result? Indy wins 78 to 73 and is now 40 minutes away from earning a trip to a fourth straight Eastern Conference Finals.

For the Fever, Tamika Catchings did not have a have a good shooting night as she only shot 2-of-12 in the first three quarters. But she dominated in the fourth quarter, scoring 14 points, making all ten of her free throws. She also got a critical steal off of Latta during the late fourth quarter run.

And despite that 10-0 run, the Mystics managed to make things interesting, as they were able to make a late 12-5 until five seconds left in the game, which was capped off by an Ivory Latta corner three which made the score 75-73. That came off of a Bria Hartley steal. But ultimately from that point on, free throws iced the game.

There were times before the fourth quarter run where it looked like Washington would win the game. In the second quarter, Latta scored 9 points, all on three pointers in a critical 23-8 second quarter to help Washington get the lead in the second quarter. She ended up with 22 points for the game.

However, at least to me, this game should have probably been a blowout in favor for the Fever. The first quarter was 22-13 in favor Indy, but it was ugly basketball. The Fever outrebounded the Mystics, 16-7. but still only shot 8-for-21 overall, and was 4-of-8 from close range.

Another thing that we talked about in this series for the Mystics was their tendency to commit turnovers, while not forcing many themselves. They committed 17 of them which turned into 18 points for the Fever. While the Mystics scored 16 points off of 10 Fever turnovers, they allowed Indy to dominate them, 22-5 in second chance points.

Next game is on Saturday, at 5 p.m. at Verizon Center. The Fever will be ready to punch an early ticket to the Eastern Conference Finals, but the Mystics shouldn't give up that easily. At least if you're a Mystics fan, you would hope so.

Update on August 22 at 12:20 a.m. ET - A postgame interview with Bria Hartley is above. If you can't see the embed above, click here for the link to Monumental Network.

And some notes:

  • So some may have questioned us why we were unanimous in believing that the Fever would win this series. As we've noted, Tamika Catchings is the X-Factor, since she didn't play in three of the four games these two teams had in the regular season. She had 7 steals in this game.
  • Bria Hartley appeared to be really active on the defensive end for Washington. She got only two steals in this game, but it sometimes felt like she had more than that.
  • The Mystics held the Fever to 3-of-12 shooting from the three point line, and that's one plus for them for this game, considering Indy's ability to stretch defenses.
  • Emma Meesseman had five turnovers in the game, more than anyone on the Mystics. But overall, I want to see her get even more involved in the offense
  • Even though she didn't score much in this game, Erlana Larkins grabbed 10 rebounds in this game, including 4 on the offensive end. The Mystics only had 4 as a team.