CHICAGO (AP) -It all comes down to defense for the WNBA's Indiana Fever.
``Play intense defense, that's what we rely on,' Fever center Tammy Sutton-Brown said. ``Our defense transitions into our offense and it's something we work on constantly.'
The Fever, with the league's best record (9-2) and fewest points allowed, routed Chicago early on the way to Friday's 83-54 victory and a franchise-record ninth straight win before 4,021 fans at the UIC Pavilion.
In the opening quarter, Indiana forced seven Chicago turnovers, shot 72.2 percent (13 of 18) and opened a 33-9 lead.
``I think coming in everyone was very focused,' said Fever veteran Tamika Catchings, a one-time Chicago-area high school star. ``One of the thing we knew about Chicago is they play really well at home. We knew we'd have to come out and play our game straight from the beginning, but try to jump on them, and we did a great job.'
The torrid pace eased after Indiana used a 10-1 run to build a 43-12 lead early in the second period. The Fever shot 52 percent (9 of 17) in the period on the way to a 54-23 halftime advantage as reserve Shay Murphy hit all five of her shots for 11 points.
She closed with 15 points as four Fever players scored in double figures.
The Sky (6-7) took their fourth straight loss and first at home. Chicago shot only 22.9 percent (8 of 35) in the opening half and its 54 points were a season low.
Sylvia Fowles, Chicago's top rebounder and third-leading scorer, sat out her fourth straight game with a sore right knee. She's expected back by Sunday when the Sky travel to Seattle.
``It's clear to us that (Fowles) is more important to us than just points and rebounds,' Sky coach Steven Key said. ``She brings a presence for us and we hope to get her back soon.'
Sutton-Brown had 11 points and seven rebounds. Katie Douglas also had 11, while reserve Jessica Davenport added 12.
Substitute Shyra Ely led the Sky with 12 points.
The Fever also set team records for most points in an opening quarter and most first-half points and halftime point margin on the road.
Indiana lost its first two games of the WNBA season, then began its current streak with a 73-66 home victory over Seattle on June 9.
The Associated Press News Service
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