Indianapolis, IN -- After it seemed like the game was all Indiana's in the fourth quarter, the San Antonio Stars managed to defeat the Indiana Fever on the road 87-85 in overtime, mostly in part to an outstanding game by rookie guard Moriah Jefferson.
"I'm really proud of our team. I think we won the game because of defense. Our bigs did a really good job of rebounding the ball and after that the offense came," said Jefferson.
Huge scoring runs by both teams dominated the first quarter, as Jefferson, was a key player that led her team to a quick lead early in the first, scoring an impressive nine straight.
As the lead fluctuated, partly due to the Fever's 6-0 run and combined with their excellent free throw shooting. The Stars then quickly came back with an 8-0 run, giving them a three-point lead. The Fever returned the favor though with their own 6-0 run, which began with huge three by guard Tiffany Mitchell.
The scoring runs continued to go back and forth for both teams, ending with a drop off layup for Indiana, that added an extra two to their side of the scoreboard. The first quarter ended 24-21, with the Fever leading.
Indiana continued to hold on to their slight lead in the second quarter, as guard Marissa Coleman, hit a huge three to keep them ahead. But, the back-and-forth runs continued again through the second quarter, and San Antonio gained the lead with a 10-2 run on the Fever. During that time, the Stars took advantage of their opponents' six turnovers.
Keeping up the fast-paced momentum of the game, the Fever came back, scoring nine straight, and guard Tamika Catchings, grabbed a big steal for her team, and the score eventually changed to 33-39, in favor of Indiana.
The first half ended with the Fever leading 43-36, with forward Erlana Larkins leading the Fever in scoring with eight and Stars standout guard Kayla McBride, with just one point.
"The mindset was more that we needed to make it a back and forth affair. We certainly didn't need where they separated from us early, and they got ahead but it was not more than a possession. And then we got the lead a little bit and that makes it a different situation," said Stars Head Coach Dan Hughes.
Despite McBride scoring her first field goal of the game at the beginning of the second half, Catchings kept the Fever ahead with two back-to-back steals that put the score at 50-38, giving them a 12-point lead by the eight-minute mark.
As Indiana became more aggressive in the third, San Antonio began to have trouble keeping up with their opponent on both the offensive and defensive sides of the court. After being outplayed, outrebounded and outscored throughout the third, the Stars managed to bring the score within seven, still trailing the Fever 54-61.
Fouls plagued the beginning of the fourth quarter, slowing down both teams' energy, and as it progressed, began to look similar to the third quarter.
Then, just when it looked like Indiana had the game in the bag, the Stars tried to stay close, taking advantage of every Fever turnover, turning most gained possessions into points that fell in San Antonio's favor.
"We just had breakdowns and they never gave up. They were relentless. They didn't put their head down. Then we got the lead to double digits and we just let it slip through our fingers," said the Fever's Erlana Larkins who led her team with 16 points and nine rebounds.
With three minutes left in the fourth, the Fever had an eight-point lead, until McBride showed up strong, quickly bringing her team within five points of Indiana.
Both teams eventually withstood a long, last two minutes of the game, and with only three seconds left, Jefferson hit a massive three-pointer that tied the score at 76, sending the game into overtime and diminishing the Fever's 12-point lead.
With five minutes extra on the clock, both teams went head-to-head, holding each other to only two points in the first two and a half minutes. Stars guard Haley Peters, missed two huge free-throws that could have put her team ahead, leading to a big three-pointer for Indiana's Shenise Johnson. On the other end, Stars forward Monique Currie, returned the favor and drilled a three-pointer, keeping the game tied at 83.
"I just thought we were efficient. I thought (Monique) Currie's three was big. I thought again Moriah Jefferson...we were able to play through her in some ways and she facilitated well," said Hughes.
With both teams in the penalty, the Stars grabbed an 85-83 lead, but a last-minute play by Catchings brought the score back to a tie. In the Stars possession, an air ball-turned-layup by Jefferson with less than a tenth of a second at the buzzer, gave the Stars a shocking and exciting hard fought win.
On the winning side, Moriah Jefferson led the Stars with 31 points, grabbing herself a new career high, and her buzzer beater declaring her the hero of the game.
The Stars are currently 4-12, remaining in second to last place in the league. They will continue to try and inch their way up toward a playoff spot on July 2, when they play the Minnesota Lynx on the road.
The Fever, now 7-10, will take on the Los Angeles Sparks on July 6.