The Indiana Fever are sitting comfortably atop the WNBA rankings. Tuesday's 90-78 defeat of the Connecticut Sun marked the team's seventh straight win of the season (the second best streak in franchise history) where six players including Tamika Catchings, Katie Douglas and Tangela Smith reached double figures.
Indiana now stands at 10-3 after a game where the Fever made 11 of 17 three-point baskets, a franchise record that hoisted them over the Sun early. However, being up by 23 at halftime, their lead was cut down to as low as 10 in the fourth quarter. This is a similar storyline from many of the Fever's match ups this season where they sustain a lead early but let their opponent break down their defense in the later portion of the game.
"I was disappointed that we didn't have more of a sense of urgency in the second half, but they're a good team and I expected them to make a run," head coach Lin Dunn said.
Connecticut's Tan White led her team with 17 points, but it was not enough for the Sun to overcome such a big deficit. Still, despite a weaker defensive effort in the last 20 minutes of play, the Fever forced eight turnovers in the second half, a silver lining to their lack of aggressive play late in the match up.
"We always talk about how the game of basketball is a game of runs," Douglas said. "They made their run but I think we definitely recovered, we were able to adjust, and we're happy we got the win."
It's been over two weeks since Fever point guard Briann January went down with a torn ACL against the Phoenix Mercury, and stepping up in her place has been Erin Phillips and Shannon Bobbitt. Phillips started the game at the one spot being one of the six players that reached doubles figures on the afternoon. The former Australian Olympic team player is still getting used to playing more minutes each game as her teammates are learning her style of play running the offense from the point.
"I think Erin's doing a great job but I think our players are still adjusting to her," Dunn said. "It just takes time. You can't lose your starting point guard, a three year veteran with us that knows our offense and defense and let it not affect you…I've been impressed with both [Phillips and Bobbitt] and how they've stepped in and filled the void for her."
While the Fever are off to their second best start in franchise history, the players aren't letting that effect their mentality for the rest of the season. Running into trouble late in games where the momentum isn't what it is at the beginning, Indiana continues to work on playing a full forty minutes and not worrying about standings or records at this point in the summer.
"Each game we're trying to get better and it's a learning experience," Smith said. "While we have one of the best records that really doesn't mean anything because we have a bullseye on our back and everyone's going to come at us and give their best game so we have to remain focused and stay within ourselves."