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Indiana Fever holds off Washington Mystics to take 1-0 series lead

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Tamika Catchings became the WNBA’s all-time playoff leading rebounder in the first quarter of the Indiana Fever’s 78-73 Eastern Conference semifinal Game 1 victory over the Washington Mystics on Aug. 21. It was what Catchings did in the fourth quarter that aided the Fever’s come from behind victory.

Catchings , who iced the game with a pair of free throws with 4.2 seconds remaining, scored 14 of her 22 points in the fourth quarter. She also collected 10 rebounds and set a team-record with seven steals – Catchings fell one steal short of the WNBA playoff record of eight held by Katie Douglas.

''You have to bring more than just scoring. For me starting off the game slow, even though I wasn't hitting my shots, they were good shots,'' Catchings said. ''Once I started getting more aggressive, we all started getting more aggressive.''

Indiana (17-18) led 72-63 at the 1:07 mark but couldn’t quite slam the door on Washington. Ivory Latta knocked down her sixth triple of the game to close out a 10-2 run to bring the Mystics to within75-73 with 5 seconds left.

Briann January made the first of two free throws, and when she missed the second, Catchings was fouled on the rebound by Monique Currie

Catchings began the game shooting 1-of-11 from the floor and finished 4-of-15. She was 14-of-14 on free throws, 10-of-10 in the fourth quarter.

January tallied 15 points while Shavonte Zellous added 10 for the Fever. Erlana Larkins grabbed 11 boards with five coming on the offensive end.

Latta led the Mystics (16-19) with 22 points,on 6-of-12 shooting, and Emma Meesseman, who was 7-of-10 from the floor, added 17. Currie also reached double-figures and finished with 11.

Indiana scored the first seven points of the game and led by as many 10 during the first stanza before taking a 22-13 lead into the first quarter.

The Fever started the game 8-of-16 from the field but went cold in the second quarter, missing 19-of-their-last 24 shots of the half.

Washington took full advantage of Indiana’s cold streak. The Mystics scored the first 10 points of the second quarter to go ahead 24-23. After the Fever briefly reclaimed the lead, a 9-0 run by the Mystics produced a 36-28 gap. The Mystics outscored the Fever 23-8 in the second quarter.

Indiana won the third quarter by a 17-14 margin to trim its halftime deficit to 50-47 heading to the fourth.

However, the Fever didn’t regain the lead until 5:58 remaining in the game, on a Catchings driving layup.

Both teams were within a possession of each other for most of the fourth. With the Fever ahead by three, 64-61, after a pair of free throws from Catchings, Stefanie Dolson turned the ball over at the other end of the floor.

January converted a layup, then she assisted on another in the following possession as the hosts stretched the margin to 68-61 with 2:20 left in the fourth. Indiana led by nine when Latta was called for a technical foul, and the Fever held off a late Washington surge over the remaining minute-plus to secure the opening game of this three-game set.

Game two is at Washington on Aug. 24.

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