Rosemont, IL -- It was an emotional day for Fever forward Tamika Catchings, who is currently on her farewell legacy tour after spending the last 15 seasons playing in the league. Today marked the last regular season game Catchings would play in the Allstate Arena and in Chicago for that matter, where she first began her basketball career.
Today was also emotional because Catchings played with a heavy heart and dedicated her today's game and the rest of the season to her former college head coach Pat Summitt, who died Tuesday morning, five years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. Catchings played a near perfect game, only missing four attempts in the 28 minutes she was on the court.
.@Catchin24 (26p-5r-4a-1s): "Definitely dedicate this game to Pat... can't say enough about how instrumental she's been in my life."— Indiana Fever (@IndianaFever) June 29, 2016
Catchings said overall today was a great day.
"I'm very happy," said Catchings. "I am thankful I had a good game, and we pulled out a win. It was really awesome ... It felt great [playing in Chicago one last time]. Any time you get to come back and have an opportunity to play and have the house full is great. It's a huge honor to be back here and to play. Playing for Pat, the last couple days have been kind of rough getting through, but I had a good game."
The tone was set early in the game. Fever head coach, Stephanie White, switched out Marissa Coleman out of the starting five after she's been battling an unwanted shooting spell midway through the season. With Coleman out, Lynetta Kizer was in, and Kizer opened up the I-65 rivalry with a 15-foot jumper to set Indiana's momentum.
The Fever pulled away with a quick six unanswered points, forcing Chicago head coach Pokey Chatman to call an early timeout.
Out of the timeout, Elena Delle Donne put the Sky on the board with a layup. However, Catchings responded with a big three and back-pedaled back to play defense, while pointing at the sky. Chicago's Allie Quigley, threw a no-look pass to Erika de Souza, opening up the court and allowing her to get an easy two points. The Sky still trailed 11-6 in the first quarter.
Indiana's shooting remained red hot, shooting 42 percent from the field and went 3-5 from behind the arc in the first quarter — which is impressive since the Fever is second to last with three-point shooting efficiency. The Fever had a 22-15-point advantage at the end of the first quarter.
Into the second quarter, Chicago quickly found success in forcing Indiana to shoot the basket before time on the shot clock expired. Courtney Vandersloot sank her one and only three of the game off of an assist from Jessica Breland, decreasing the Fever's lead to just four points.
Indiana's Erica Wheeler, responded to Vandersloot's three with a pull-up jumper, hitting nothing but the net. Delle Donne worked her magic, slicing through three defenders for another two points. With the offensive juices flowing for the Sky, Chicago continued to struggle to put a defensive clamp on Indiana. Cappie Pondexter made the connection to Imani Boyette at the end of the second quarter, but the Fever won the first half, 44-38.
During the first half, Catchings only missed two field goals, going 4-6. She was unblemished from behind the arc and the free throw line. The Fever shot nearly 45 percent from the field and made 50 percent of their three-point attempts. On the other hand, the Sky shot 52 percent from the field, which helped keep them in the game. The Sky made strong offensive plays, but was unable to back them up on the defensive end of the court.
The Fever began to increase their lead in the third quarter. Briann January hit back-to-back buckets to give Indiana the eight-point lead.
Pondexter caught fire after a flagrant call was made against Chicago, but Catchings quickly put out that flame after throwing down a three.
The Fever scored 31 points in the third quarter, alone. Chatman said she understands that energy in the third quarter is something her team needs to work on.
"When [Indiana] had that 31 point third quarter, that's been an Achilles heel for us; that one-quarter that kind of would do us in," said Chatman. "You can't do that against any team let along [this] Indiana team that's in here looking to be aggressive."
Indiana had the 75-64-point edge heading into the fourth quarter. Erlana Larkins continued to be everywhere she needed to be and threw up a jumper off a rebound to add to her 15 points and nine rebounds. Delle Donne scored a team-high 21 points and shot with efficiency, shooting 63 percent from the field.
Although Chicago kept fighting until the end, the Sky couldn't get the defensive stops they needed. Four of Indiana's starting five scored double digits today. The Sky lacked defensive intensity from the very first tip-off and had a theme of inconsistency, which has followed them all season.
Delle Donne said she recognizes that defense is something the team needs to improve on to be successful in the second half of the season.
"We needed to stop them, and we just gave up far too many points," said Delle Donne. "I think their average is 79, and we gave up 95 points."
Indiana, who has lost the last five regular season match-ups against the Sky, defeated Chicago, 95-83.
The Fever (7-9), who just capped off their three-game road stint, will return home on Friday, July 1 to take on the San Antonio Stars at 7 p.m. ET.
Chicago (6-9) will look to regroup by Friday, July 1, when the Sky hosts the Washington Mystics at 8:30 p.m. ET.