INDIANAPOLIS — Tamika Catchings scored 18 points and the defending WNBA champion Indiana Fever pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat the Seattle Storm 71-63 Sunday night.
Shavonte Zellous had 14 points, Karima Christmas scored 12 and Jessica Breland added career-highs of 10 points and 10 rebounds to help the Fever (3-7) win their second straight game.
“That was a great team win. A great effort,” Catchings said. “I think everybody did a really good job stepping up tonight. Our defense was definitely better in the second half. We did a much better job taking care of the ball and executing offensively.”
Zellous’ 3-pointer with less than a second left in the third quarter tied the score 50-all. Indiana then opened the fourth quarter with a 10-2 run to take an eight-point lead with 6:43 remaining. Seattle got no closer than four the rest of the way. Breland and Zellous had four points each during the spurt.
Indiana’s Briann January was hit in the head in the first quarter and left the game. She played the entire second quarter, but was evaluated by doctors at halftime and did not return because of a concussion. January is the seventh player to miss time for the Fever. Six of the team’s top seven scorers from 2012 have missed stretches because of injuries.
“I’ve never experienced a season with so many injuries,” Fever coach Lin Dunn said. “I’ve also never experienced a season where so many other people decided to step up.”
With January out, Dunn moved Catchings from power forward to point guard and everyone else adjusted.
“I told (Briann) don’t ever leave me out there like that again,” Catchings said. “You have a newfound respect for point guards when you have to play it. … You get tired fast.”
The Fever were a franchise-best 18-for-18 from the foul line.
Shekinna Stricklen scored 11 points for the Storm (4-6). Tina Thompson added nine points for Seattle, which has lost three straight.
“Overall we hustled pretty well and moved the ball,” Stricklen said. “We got killed on second-chance points. They out rebounded us. We got good shots, they just didn’t fall.”
The Fever picked up their defense in the final period and limited the Storm to 36-percent shooting from the field. Indiana won the rebounding contest 34-22, including 12 on the offensive end.
“Indiana hurt us on the offensive boards,” Storm coach Brian Agler said. “The offensive boards hurt us and 20 turnovers.”