UNCASVILLE, July 28 – Two strong defensive teams met in the Mohegan Sun Arena with first place on the line in the WNBA’s Eastern Conference. The visiting Indiana Fever were without their leading scorer, All-Star Katie Douglas, the former Connecticut Sun stalwart averaging a team-leading 14.5 points a game was home with an illness.
With a four-game winning streak and a 7-0 record on its home court this season, the Sun were confident.
Yet, it was the Sun that wilted Thursday night in a 69-58 loss to the Fever before 6,329 fans.
Connecticut (10-6) couldn’t overcome a dreadful first quarter and fell behind by 17 points in the first half. They made several runs, twice cutting the lead to four in the second half.. Once, they trimmed it to three points.
But Indiana (12-4) always had a play in their pocket. When Connecticut’s Danielle McCary cut the lead to three by sinking a rebound with 5:25 left in the third quarter, Indiana’s Jeanette Pohlen responded with a three-point shot.
With about six minutes left in the game, Connecticut’s Tina Charles cut the lead to four with a jumper from the top of the lane. The shortest player on the floor, Indiana’s 5-foot-2 guard Shannon Bobbitt drained another three-pointer to push the lead back to seven.
Bobbitt, who came into the game averaging just 2.4 points a game, had a career-high 13 points along with a team-high five assists and five steals.
“We let Bobbitt have a huge effect on the game,” Connecticut coach Mike Thibault said. “She doesn’t normally score 13 points a game and when you allow that, it hurts. She had some big plays, some big momentum changing plays.”
Indiana All-Star Tamika Catchings led the Fever with 16 points while Jessica Davenport added 10 points and 10 rebounds off the bench for Indiana, which captured the four-game season series with the Sun.
Indiana won despite shooting just 32.8 percent from the floor. They did have 48 rebounds and outrebounded Connecticut by 11. “We really worked on our rebounding. We were last in the league in rebounding,” Indiana coach Lin Dunn said. “We got a tremendous effort from everyone and that really cut down on Connecticut’s second chance opportunities.”
Connecticut shot just 30.6 percent from the floor. Connecticut’s four leading scorers Asjha Jones, Danielle McCray, Renee Montgomery and Tina Charles combined to shoot 12 of 47 from the floor. Jones was 1-of-8 and finished with two points.
Charles led the way with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Montgomery added 10 points. Kara Lawson had seven points off the bench but most of her points came in the waning minutes of the game.
It was their worst shooting performance of the season. They had a season-low 22 field goals and 58 points.
“It seems like twice a year I don’t think we can shoot any worse and we do,” said a disappointed Connecticut coach Mike Thibault. “We had an opportunity. Indiana was missing their leading scorer. We wasted a good defensive effort. We played terrific defense but we couldn’t sink a basket to save our lives.”
Connecticut missed its first seven shots and ten of its first 11 shots. Indiana wasn’t much better by missing 11 of its first 13 shots but they were able to weather the storm. Indiana had a 10-0 surge at the beginning of the second quarter to seize control.
“It was just one of those days,” Montgomery said. “We held them on the other end, it was just that we couldn’t hit enough shots. The second quarter was just brick city.”
Three-point goals: Indiana 7-18 (Catchings 3, Bobbitt 2, Pohlen 2); Connecticut 1-16 (McCray); Rebounds, Indiana 48-39.