Catchings helps Fever survive scare from Sun

Connecticut's Kelsey Griffin (5), shown here driving to the baseket during a game against Tulsa on Tuesday, scored a career high 17 points in Saturday's 78-66 loss to the Indiana Fever.
Connecticut's Kelsey Griffin (5), shown here driving to the baseket during a game against Tulsa on Tuesday, scored a career high 17 points in Saturday's 78-66 loss to the Indiana Fever. Dana Jensen/The Day Buy Photo

Indianapolis - Tamika Catchings had 22 points and six steals to help the Indiana Fever beat the Connecticut Sun 78-66 on Saturday night.

Briann January had 14 points and seven rebounds, and Shavonte Zellous also scored 14 points for the injury-plagued Fever (4-7). The defending WNBA champions won their third straight game after dropping seven of eight to start the season.

The Fever took advantage after Connecticut's star player, reigning league MVP Tina Charles, was ejected early in the fourth quarter. The center picked up two technical fouls after she disagreed with a call and was sent to the locker room.

Charles finished with 14 points for the Sun (3-8). Kelsey Griffin added 17 points (career high) and eight rebounds and Allison Hightower scored 17 points.

Trailing 41-23 at halftime, the Sun rallied to within 56-54 on a 3-pointer by Iziane Castro Marques two minutes into the fourth quarter.

Karima Christmas answered with a three-point play for Indiana, sparking a 10-2 run that pushed the lead back to 66-56 with 5:01 left.

The Sun could not get closer than 66-61 on a 3-pointer by Hightower with 3:56 left in the game. Indiana answered with a final 10-0 push and cruised home to the win.

"In the first half, we were not hitting our shots. Then we let our defense fall," Connecticut coach Anne Donovan said. "We had a tremendous third quarter. We had more points than we had in the first half. Losing Tina took the wind out of our sails. We had a five-point game going, and it shifted back."

Griffin said, "To get down by 20 is nearly impossible to come back from. In the third and fourth quarter, there were opportunties. (Give) credit to Indiana. They executed their game plan, took Tina out of the game."

January started at point guard for the Fever after suffering concussion-like symptoms during the previous game against Seattle.

Indiana took control with a run late in the first quarter and led 41-23 at halftime. The Fever shot 50 percent from the field in the first half. Catchings scored 13 points in the half while January scored 10.

The Sun shot 35 percent from the field and committed 13 turnovers before the break. Charles, who entered the game ranked third in the league in scoring average (19.1) and second in rebounds (10.8), had four points and two rebounds in the first half, and the Sun shot just 35 percent in the first 20 minutes.

Connecticut rallied in the third quarter. A 3-pointer by Hightower trimmed Indiana's lead to 47-37. The Sun continued to chip away, and the Fever took a 53-47 lead into the fourth quarter. Charles got it going with eight points in the third quarter and Griffin added seven. The Sun held the Fever to 3-for-16 shooting in the third quarter.

Connecticut seemed to be in position to complete the comeback, but Charles became unglued, Indiana made three free throws to take a 62-54 lead, and the Fever remained in control the rest of the way.

The Fever were without Katie Douglas (back), Erin Phillips (torn right meniscus) and Jeanette Pohlen (torn left ACL). Starting center Jessica Davenport is out for the season.

Connecticut was without Kara Lawson (knee), Tan White (broken ring finger) and Renee Montgomery (left ankle sprain).

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