January’s Fever defeat Vandersloot’s Sky
INDIANAPOLIS – Tangela Smith took what the defense gave her.
It sure seemed like she was greedy.
Smith scored 16 points, Katie Douglas had 10 points and seven rebounds and the Indiana Fever beat the Chicago Sky 65-57 on Saturday night in the season opener for both teams.
The Fever beat the Sky for the sixth straight time.
“I took what the defense gave me,” Smith said. “They were so focused on Katie and (Catchings) that they forgot about me and I just took the open shots and knocked them down.”
Epiphanny Prince scored 20 points and Sylvia Fowles scored 10 points along with seven rebounds for the Sky, who dropped their sixth straight game to the Fever.
Former Gonzaga star Courtney Vandersloot, the third overall pick by the Sky in this year’s WNBA draft, scored seven points and added seven assists and three rebounds before fouling out in her debut for Chicago.
Indiana jumped to a 10-1 start and never trailed.
“We did a good job executing offensively,” Fever coach Lin Dunn said. “I bet Phoenix wishes they still had Tangela Smith.”
Chicago couldn’t hit a shot to start the game or maintain possession. The Sky committed four turnovers before scoring its first field goal and finished with 17 turnovers on the night.
“Their pressure didn’t necessarily turn us over, but we couldn’t get the ball inside,” Chicago coach Pokey Chatman said. “We didn’t make the right reads. I think they were a little bit tougher than us and we talked about that.”
Chicago, which shot 35 percent, closed out the first half on an 8-2 run to get within four, but the Fever opened the third quarter by building a 10-point lead after Smith hit a 3, Douglas scored on a short jumper and Briann January (Lewis and Clark HS) scored a free throw.
The Sky were able to make another run late in the fourth and get within three. Then Douglas hit a 3, scored under the basket and made one of two foul shots. Catchings extended the lead to 11 again with 1:54 left in regulation with a driving lay-up.
Despite Indiana’s run to start the first and third quarters and the adjustment in the fourth, the Fever shot just 30 percent.
“We were a little out of sync with our open shots,” Dunn said. “Little disappointed in missing so many open shots.”
Smith, who came to the Fever in the offseason after spending four seasons with the Phoenix Mercury, is making a good first impression in Indiana. She was 4 of 7 from behind the arc, one shy of her career high for 3s in a game.
“If Tamika and I are coming off pick and rolls or what not, the defense tends to have a lot of double-teams against us, so she definitely loosens things up for us out there,” Douglas said.