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Fouls on fouls on Fowles; Fever beat Lynx to force Game 5

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Indiana kept its championship hopes alive with a 75-69 win in Game 4 Sunday night in Indianapolis. Sylvia Fowles struggled heavily with foul trouble as Indiana seized the opportunity.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Indianapolis, IN -- Foul trouble was the name of the game again in Game 4 of the WNBA Finals.

Sylvia Fowles battled foul trouble from go, and the Fever executed a textbook strategy, claiming a 75-69 win.

Both teams struggled with foul trouble in Game 3, but this time Tamika Catchings remained on the floor with no fouls. And that could have been the key for the Fever to keep their championship hopes alive.

Sylvia Fowles played just 3:72 in the first half for Minnesota due to foul trouble. She picked up her second foul at the 6:30 mark of the first half and Indiana responded with a quick 6-0 run.

She remained on the bench for the remainder of the quarter. When Fowles returned for the start of the second quarter, Indiana's Natasha Howard strategically drove in on Fowles, drawing her third foul and completing the and-one.

The Fever turned around and had the exact same game plan in the third quarter. Briann January drove in on Fowles, forcing her to pick up her fourth at the 6:40 mark.

"We have to do a better job of protecting our identity which is to protect the paint and not foul," Minnesota forward Maya Moore said. "Their game plan was to get to the paint and get to the line and ours is to stop that, so they did that better in these 40 minutes."

Despite two of Minnesota's leaders sidelined for much of the second half, the Lynx trailed just 32-36 at halftime.

But it was the third quarter where the Fever pulled away.

The Fever came out of the half firing on all cylinders with the scrappy defensive effort fueling successful offensive drives. Indiana racked up a 14-point lead on a Marissa Coleman three-pointer with just under 1:30 remaining as part of a 7-9 run. Coleman finished with 14 points.

"The game was busted open with that 14-point deficit," Moore said. "We didn't have enough to recover from that run. That was a big run and it was the difference in the game."

The Lynx limited the Fever to just one field goal in the fourth quarter, but the Fever went 15-of-18 from the free-throw line.

"For 35 minutes we did everything we needed to do to put ourselves in a position to win. Obviously not happy with the last five minutes, but it's a growing experience," Fever head coach Stephanie White said.

With Fowles in trouble, Indiana matched Minnesota's post game, scoring 26 in the paint and pulling down 24 rebounds. Minnesota had 36 points in the paint and 24 rebounds.

"We decided that before the game to win a championship we had to play great defense, and we just didn't get it done until we had that sense of urgency in the fourth quarter," Minnesota head coach Cheryl Reeve said. "It's too late at that point. We've got to get that sense of urgency earlier in the game."

The Fever had a very balanced effort in the win. January came up big for the Fever despite playing with three fouls collected in the first half alone. She finished with 13 points.

But it was Shenise Johnson who stood out, leading the team with 15 points.Tamika Catchings finished with 10.

"I've seen a team that first and foremost has a hunger to play for each other," White said. "This team has been so unselfish throughout this entire season and are in it for the greater good of the team, and that's why we're here. Because of the selflessness, because of the sacrifice, because of all 12 of our players. That's why we're here."

Catchings agreed with White.

"We've played through the highs and lows and we've always pulled together, Ithink even more so wanting it for each other," she said. "We got to the playoffs and said we've been through the highs and lows of the regular season, and at that point we had never had all 12 players for a full game.

"We knew that when we put all 12 of us together how much better we could be and how great we could be. We're inspired, we're inspired by one another and you see that when we're out there," Catchings continued. "Every single person that has gotten in, we've jus played for each other and it's just that extra motivation that you don't want it to be done yet."

Maya Moore led Minnesota with 20 points. Whalen had 16, and Seimone Augustus had 10 points.

Game 5 will take place in Minnesota on Wednesday. It is just the fourth Game 5 in WNBA history.