INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - First, Tamika Catchings got mad. Then she did something about it.
Catchings scored 21 points to lead a balanced offense and provided a defensive gem as the Indiana Fever rolled to a big lead early, then held on for an 81-68 win over the San Antonio Silver Stars on Tuesday.
Erin Phillips scored 18 points and Katie Douglas 13 for the Eastern Conference-leading Fever (16-7).
Becky Hammon scored 19 points and fueled a fourth-quarter rally by San Antonio (12-9), second in the Western Conference.
With the Silver Stars rallying, Catchings was whistled for a technical foul after voicing her displeasure with the officiating with 6:41 to play.
``I was a little upset,' said Catchings, who hit 7-of-13 field goals and all three of her 3-pointers. ``I don't even remember exactly what happened. We needed something to get us fired up, right? I was just trying to find different ways to get us fired up.'
After the tech was called, the Fever players huddled.
``We got together and said, Don't let the refs take us out of the game,'' Catchings said.
Indiana led by as many as 20 points before Hammon scored 15 points in the fourth period to help the Silver Stars cut the deficit to 74-64 with 2:17 to play.
The Fever turned the ball over, with Hammon racing to the basket on a breakaway. But Catchings caught her and stripped the ball away, with Phillips grabbing the loose ball and drawing the subsequent foul. She made both free throws for a 12-point lead with 1:58 remaining.
``Don't make Catchings mad,' Fever coach Lin Dunn said. ``What she did (stripping the ball from Hammon) doesn't surprise me at all.'
The Silver Stars scored just five points in the second quarter as Indiana built a 39-23 lead at intermission. San Antonio made just 1-of-14 field goals in the period and the Stars were 0-for-3 from 3-point range. The Fever hit 6-of-15 field goals in the period, including 2-of-4 from beyond the arc.
``We did a good job on Becky (Hammon) and Sophia (Young),' Dunn said. ``Our defense is more effective as the game goes on, because we are more aware of the opponent's offense. By the second quarter, we have gotten into a rhythm.'
At the half, Young had seven points and Hammon three. Young finished with 13, Scholanda Robinson 12 and Danielle Robinson 11 for San Antonio, which has lost four of its last five games.
``We dug ourselves into a hole,' Hammon said. ``It's hard to come back on the road.'
``I was pleased with how we came back,' Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes said. ``Catchings made some pivotal plays. That's why she's the player she is.'
The Associated Press News Service
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