INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - After all these years, Tamika Catchings is still adding to her sterling defensive reputation.
Connecticut had a chance to tie Indiana in the final seconds, but Catchings stole the ball from Renee Montgomery in a scramble under the basket to start a fast break, and Shyra Ely's layup put the finishing touch on a 75-70 win for the Fever.
``We needed to step up,' said Catchings, a 10-year veteran. ``Everybody needed to do the little things.'
Catchings, a four-time defensive player of the year, actually gave the Fever more than coach Lin Dunn expected.
``We were going to let them get down into the paint and give them a two, just don't give them a 3 and don't foul,' she said.
Catchings had 13 points, 12 rebounds and five assists for her 70th career double-double. Tammy Sutton-Brown had 12 points and Briann January added 10 for Indiana (5-3), which moved into first place in the Eastern Conference.
Sutton-Brown, who came off the bench for the first time this season, helped Indiana's reserves outscore Connecticut's 31-6.
``It was ridiculous,' Connecticut coach Mike Thibault said.
Renee Montgomery had 19 points and Asjha Jones added 18 for Connecticut (4-3). Tina Charles, who had averaged 26 points in her previous three games, was held to 12.
``They were going right to her, and we were staying behind her,' Dunn said. ``Then we got around on her and we started doubling her. Anytime you can keep Tina Charles to 12 points, you're happy.'
Indiana controlled most of the second half, but Connecticut made a final surge. Montgomery's 3-pointer with 13.8 seconds left cut what had been a 14-point deficit to 72-70.
Catchings made the second of a pair of free throws with 12.9 seconds left to make it 73-70, and Connecticut never got off another shot.
``We fought down the stretch,' Jones said. ``A game we should have won. Turnovers down the stretch took their toll on us.'
Connecticut got off to a fast start and led 28-20 in the second quarter before the Fever put starters Catchings, January and Katie Douglas back into the game. Connecticut still led 30-23 before Indiana went on a 16-0 run and held the Sun scoreless for more than 6 minutes. The Fever led 39-32 at halftime.
Connecticut surged and took a 45-44 lead on a layup by Montgomery early in the third quarter before Sutton-Brown answered for Indiana. The veteran center scored eight points in a 3-minute span to help the Fever regain control, and they led 60-49 at the end of the period.
``Once we get our running game going, it's a lot easier for us,' Sutton-Brown said. ``Running on them was something that we focused on and wanted to do.'
The Sun made just 9 of 28 shots in the middle two quarters.
Connecticut trimmed Indiana's lead to 69-63 and could have drawn closer. Catchings got a rebound, drove nearly the length of the court, made a spinning layup and was fouled. She made the free throw to put Indiana up 72-63 before Connecticut's final charge.
``This was a good win over a very good team,' Dunn said.
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: http://twitter.com/cliffbruntap.
The Associated Press News Service
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