INDIANAPOLIS (AP)—The Indiana Fever needed some extra time to pull off a win on Saturday night.
The Fever beat the Chicago Sky 88-86 in overtime to bounce back from a loss on Thursday.
”They wanted to beat us very badly,” Indiana coach Lin Dunn said. ”At crunch time we really stepped up. Our bench came through. Defense down the stretch in the final minutes was key.”
Tamika Catchings had 18 points, nine rebounds and six assists to lead the Fever.
Catchings, who is set for her third Olympics later this month, became the first player in WNBA history to score 1,500 career free throws on 6 of 8 free throw shooting.
Jessica Davenport scored 15 points and Shavonte Zellous scored 14 points for the Fever (9-6).
Zellous scored a season-high 18 points in the last meeting with the Sky, an 81-72 win on June 27.
Sylvia Fowles had 24 points and 16 rebounds and Shay Murphy scored 20 points for the Sky (8-7), who have lost six of seven.
Davenport scored the go-ahead basket with 2:41 left in overtime and was fouled on the shot. She missed the free throw, but Zellous grabbed the rebound and Davenport scored to give the Fever an 83-80 lead.
The Sky went on a 12-0 run midway through the fourth quarter to get within 68-67.
”I think we’re too good of a team,” Catchings said. ”It’s kind of like lack of focus on our part. That just can’t happen.”
Catchings scored to make it 70-67, but then Murphy hit a 3-pointer to tie the game.
The Sky took their first lead of the game with 3:58 to play when Swin Cash, who scored 18 points, went to the line and made two free throws.
Fowles scored to make it 76-75 with 1:11 left and the Fever had the chance to gain the lead, but turned the ball on a bad pass to Davenport next to the basket.
They could have regained the lead again with 22 seconds left in regulation.
The Sky missed a shot and the Fever’s Briann January was fouled driving to the basket and made 1 of 2 shots from the line.
January is the No. 2 free throw shooter in the league (.919) and only missed three free throws all season before Saturday’s game.
The Fever forces their opponents to an average of 17 turnovers a game. The Sky had five turnovers in the first quarter and 24 in the game. The Fever didn’t commit their first turnover until the 3:23 mark in the first.
The Fever were perfect from the free throw line in the first quarter going 10 for 10 and didn’t commit a foul. The Fever led 25-15 after the first.
”I felt like we start off a little shaky,” Fowles said. ”Turnovers killed us. Overall we did OK. We just need to cut down on the turnovers.”
It wasn’t until late in the second quarter that the Sky were able to get within four of the Fever and trailed 37-33 at the break.
”We didn’t make any adjustments (at halftime) because I felt they scored 25 points in the first quarter and 12 points the second quarter, so I thought we were playing well,” Chicago coach Pokey Chatman said.
”It’s tough when Indiana goes to the line 38 times and only one foul in 10 minutes. We had the opportunities and we didn’t take advantage of it.”
The Fever pushed to a double-digit lead late in the third quarter when Davenport was fouled. She made her first free throw and missed the second, but Jeanette Pohlen grabbed the rebound and scored to make it 60-49 with 1:51 left in the third.
The Sky scored on the next trip down the floor, but Indiana’s Katie Douglas made 3 of 4 free throws in the final minute of the quarter and the Fever held the Sky scoreless to take a 64-51 lead into the final quarter.
The win was the Fever’s fourth over the Sky this season. The Sky have one more chance to take a game from the Fever when the two teams play again on Sept. 1.
The Fever will host New York on Tuesday and Los Angeles on Thursday before entering the Olympic break.
The Sky will host San Antonio on Wednesday and Connecticut on Friday.
Catchings said the Fever want to close out the final two games on a high note.
”We just need to have two great games,” Catchings said. ”It’s really important for us every game we play. The goal of this team is to win a championship in the end. Every game counts.”
Notes: Fever G Erin Phillips didn’t play and is day-to-day with concussion-like symptoms suffered in Thursday’s loss to the San Antonio Silver Stars. … Fever F Karima Christmas made her debut with the Fever after being acquired from Tulsa in a trade for Roneeka Hodges on July 2. … The Sky’s leading scorer, Epiphanny Prince, remained out with a broken bone in her right foot that she suffered in an 84-70 loss at Indiana on June 16.