Rosemont Ill. – It was a 26-point performance that came with the heaviest of hearts as Tamika Catchings led all scorers to help the Fever defeat the Sky, 95-83.
Catchings certainly had a lot on her mind prior to Wednesday’s tip off. Not only was the former Illinois Ms. Basketball playing her last regular season game in Chicago, but was also playing in her first game since the passing of her coach, mentor, and friend, former Tennessee coach Pat Summit.
“It was a great day. I’m very happy,” the former Stevenson High School star said. “Really, my motivation was two-fold. First, just for Pat, I wanted to play well for her. Second, I wanted to do well, playing back here in Chicago for the last time. I am thankful I had a good game and we pulled out a win. It was really awesome.”
Play well she did. Catchings shot 7 of 11 from the field and was a perfect 9 for 9 from the charity stripe to go along with her 5 rebounds and 4 assists.
The Fever benefited from a third quarter outbreak in which they outscored the Sky 31-26. This, coming in a quarter in which the Sky had narrowed the deficit to within 4 before the Fever stretched it to 13 to close out the frame.
“When [Indiana] had that 31-point third quarter, that’s been an Achilles heel for us; that one quarter that kind of would do us in,” Sky coach Pokey Chatman said. “You can’t do that against any team let alone [this] Indiana team that’s in here looking to be aggressive.”
Despite scoring 21 points, Sky forward Elena Delle Donne said it all came down to defense, and believes it’s an area her team needs to improve
“We needed to stop them, and we just gave up far too many points. I think their average is 79 and we gave up 95 points,” Delle Donne said.
Chicago’s performance marked the fourth consecutive game Delle Donne notched 20 or more points. Three other Sky scorers recorded double-digit figures. Cappie Pondexter and Imani Boyette each had 12, and Erika De Souza netted 10.
The Sky will next play host to the Washington Mystics Friday. Tip is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.