ROSEMONT, Ill. – Briann January insisted her extensive postgame ice treatment had nothing to do with a sizzling Friday night performance.
The Indiana Fever guard had her left shoulder and knees wrapped in ice and both ankles dunked in a large bucket of ice after scoring a career-high 23 points in an 82-77 victory over the Chicago Sky.
“It’s just maintenance,” January said. “I’ll be fine tomorrow.”
January also added a career-best five 3-pointers to help the defending champion Fever (14-16) move into a tie with Washington for third place in the Eastern Conference. They can clinch their ninth consecutive playoff berth by beating Connecticut at home Saturday.
“I’m just happy we got the win,” said January, who eclipsed her previous high of 22 points set in 2012. “My team did a great job finding me today and I knocked down shots for them ... “It’s just one more win closer to clinching a spot in the playoffs and that’s all I’m concerned with.”
Erlana Larkins had 13 points, 12 rebounds and a career-best six assists for Indiana. Shavonte Zellous added 14 points, Karima Christmas had 11, and Tamika Catchings finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Sylvia Fowles scored 23 points for Chicago, which had its seven-game winning streak snapped to drop to 21-9. Epiphanny Prince added 19 points, and Elena Delle Donne had 14, and Swin Cash 13.
The victory was Indiana’s third in four meetings with Chicago this season.
The Sky, who already clinched the Eastern Conference title, travel to Washington on Sunday.
Chicago was without playmaking guard Courtney Vandersloot, who suffered an ankle injury during pregame warmups.
“We missed her a lot,” Fowles said. “But even though Sloot wasn’t out there, I don’t think that’s an excuse for us to not get the job done.”
The Fever led by 14 points left in 3:04 left in regulation when the Sky launched a late rally, outscoring the visitors 17-6 to trim the final margin.
“You can’t wait late to match someone’s intensity,” Sky coach Pokey Chatman said. “And with any team in this league – especially Indiana coming off a loss – you can’t just match you have to exceed it and that’s the reason why we fell short.”
Catchings, who played high school basketball in the Chicago suburbs, made her 30th career appearances in Chicago against the Sky.