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Overwhelmed by Catchings’ emotional night, Fever fall to LA

Saturday was a special night in Indiana as the Fever retired legendary player, Tamika Catchings’ uniform. Unfortunately, the home team could not get the victory on the night as Los Angeles got revenge for an earlier loss to Indiana this season.

Tamika Catchings, jersey retirement Lydia Knoll - Swish Appeal

Indianapolis, IN The LA Sparks made the road trip to Indianapolis this Saturday, looking for revenge against the Indiana Fever. The last time these two teams met one month ago, the Fever stole the victory right out from under the Sparks’ nose, making a 14-point comeback at the very end of the game. Tonight, however, was a different story.

Indiana got off to a quick start, motivated to prove the Sparks that they deserved last month’s win. Natalie Achonwa of the Fever said in an interview before the game, “[Sparks] think they let the game get away… We have to show that we took it from them.”

The home team took an early lead led by Candice Dupree who scored six of their first nine points, three minutes into the game. Confidence on the court was high as Briann January, Erica Wheeler, and Tiffany Mitchell all nailed threes within the first quarter.

Both teams’ shooting percentages were down considerably from their last meeting, most notably the Sparks’ three-point percentage. In their last meeting, Los Angeles boasted a 53% three-point percentage while after the first quarter tonight they barely held onto a 33%.

The early energy from the Fever shocked the Sparks, who soon realized they needed to step their game up if they were going to have any chance at a victory.

The second quarter proved the depth of this LA team as five players each scored at least four points. Although the Fever was still in the game, they did not capitalize on as many opportunities as the Sparks did. Los Angeles improved their three-point percentage from 33% to 75% in the second frame.

Both teams were aggressively attacking the ball, knowing this game was about to be a hard fought one. Shots were off for the Fever as the second period came to a close, but Shenise Johnson did all she could as she managed to snag an offensive rebound and put it up for two.

Los Angeles outscored Indiana by nine points in the quarter, taking the lead 46-40.

The third was an emotional test for the Fever, as they were coming off the excitement of Tamika Catchings’ jersey retirement at the halftime. After the game, Johnson said, “We shed a tear or two [during halftime] and then had to turn around and play a game. But there are no excuses.”

Lydia Knoll - Swish Appeal

No excuses maybe, but certainly a distraction. The team lost complete control of the game allowing the Sparks to gain a 25 point lead. Nneka Ogwumike helped build LA’s lead with seven points and two steals in the quarter.

Indiana, on the other hand, suffered a dry spell… Not a single shot dropped until the last four minutes of the third stanza.

The last quarter crawled by as the Fever realized the Sparks had steadily snuck out of their reach. Indiana’s defense struggled to put a stop on the Sparks as they held onto the lead by over 10 points.

“Defense is something we work on every single day, we just have to get out there and do it,” Dupree said after the game. “We let our offense dictate our defense when it should be the other way around.”

When their offense suffered, their defense went with it.

The final buzzer sounded and Los Angeles, successful in revenge, took home the victory 84-73. This win improved their record to 9-3 with five straight wins. The Fever was unable to secure back-to-back wins against LA and allowed their record to fall below .500 at 6-7.

Next up for the Fever is a rematch against the Chicago Sky on Wednesday, June 28th. The Sparks will take on the Atlanta Dream the following Friday, June 30th.