INDIANPOLIS—There's always a rookie moment. Briann January had her's with about 11 seconds to go Friday night.
With the Fever up by five, and Detroit looking to inbound, January got tangled up with the Shock's Deanna Nolan. It drew the foul on the rookie guard, and Nolan made her free throw to pull it to within four.
"I got my head hooked by somebody's elbow," recalled January about the moment after the game. "Those we're the slowest 10 seconds of my life."
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But thanks to playing the 13 fastest minutes of her WNBA career in the second half, the Fever will live to play another day. Coming off the bench, January scored 12 points in the second half to help the Fever outlast the Shock 79-75 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals Friday at Conseco Fieldhouse.
That means a decisive Game Three will happen Saturday night on the Fever's homecourt, and the team has a better idea of the value of their first year reserve.
"She never ceases to amaze me," said guard Tamika Catchings of January. "A lot of the younger players seem to get intimidated when they're playing the Detroit Shock, but I think tonight she came out and did a phenominal job."
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Many of those came when Catchings was knocked to the floor and injured her shoulder, which put January right into her spot. The first year player didn't flinch, playing most of the second half, hitting four-of-six shots and scoring 12 points to help the Fever grab the lead and never let it go in the final 10 minutes.
"She was very aggressive," said Fever head coach Lin Dunn of January, who also used January in place of Tully Bevilaqua, whose struggled shooting in the playoffs. "I thought that was a real key for us.
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This poise by the rookie has been seen already in these playoffs, as January's 16 points helped the Fever pick up a win at Washington in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Once a starter this season, January has found more success coming off the bench, and has tried to make the most of her time, which usually ranges in the 15 to 20 minute range.
"I just try to keep pushing the ball and get it to our scorers," said January of her play.