Fever-Mystics Preview


The Indiana Fever dropped seven of their first eight games in 2013 but still managed to reach the Eastern Conference finals for the third straight year.

They got off to another slow start this season, especially on the defensive end, but those struggles seem to be a thing of the past.

Indiana looks to extend its winning streak to four Friday night and avenge its last loss as it visits the Washington Mystics, who are also trying to post a fourth consecutive victory.

The Fever allowed an average of 81.0 points in dropping their first three games, including 79-63 at home to the Mystics (4-2) on May 23. They've tightened things up since, allowing 69.3 points per game during their win streak.

Indiana (3-3), which hasn't won four in a row since a five-game run during its 2012 WNBA championship season, has been idle since beating visiting New York 70-66 on Saturday.

It was the Fever's fourth game decided by five points or less, and this time they hit their free throws to seal the victory. Indiana went 14 of 19 from the line after opening 90 of 133 (67.6 percent).

''I thought it was a really good win for us at home against a really good team,'' said Lin Dunn, who earned her 200th win as a professional coach. ''But, at the end of the day, the game came down to the wire and we stepped up and hit our free throws.''

Briann January led Indiana with 20 points, and she's reached that plateau on three occasions after doing so four times in her first five seasons.

''My teammates are finding me,'' said January, who was named conference player of the week Monday. ''That is always a plus. I am just trying to be available.''

January, shooting a league-high 71.4 percent (15 for 21) from 3-point range, was held to 10 points last month against Washington, which outscored Connecticut 24-15 in the fourth quarter of Thursday night's 74-66 road victory.

The Mystics shot 51.7 percent, held the Sun to 34.2 percent and they outrebounded them 41-29.

''I think our half-court defense has been our savior,'' coach Mike Thibault said.

Veterans Kia Vaughn, Ivory Latta and Monique Currie combined for 40 points and 16 rebounds for the Mystics, who last won four straight during the regular season when they finished 2010 on a six-game run.

Rookie guard Bria Hartley led the way last month against the Fever with 15 points and five assists.

''We've got veterans, and then we've got young players that can get the job done,'' Latta said. ''... We're definitely building toughness.''