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Catchings’ 21 points lead Fever past Sun 72-68

INDIANAPOLIS – All-Star Tamika Catchings led Indiana with 21 points and Briann January added 13 to lift the Fever past the Connecticut Sun 72-68 on Thursday.

In just her third game this season after being sidelined with a bad back, Catchings helped even the four-game series by going 8 for 15 from the field.

“Having her in crunch time, with the ball in her hands, just gives us so much confidence,” Fever coach Lin Dunn said of Catchings. “She is a go-to player when we need something to happen.”

Tied at 61, Indiana’s Layshia Clarendon gathered the rebound after Chiney Ogwunmike’s block of Shavonte Zellous and made the put-back jumper for the lead with just over three minutes left. Clarendon finished with a career-high 12 points, helping spur Indiana’s 33-point fourth quarter, along with 11 from Catchings and eight from January.

“Once we got the energy and the momentum going our way, I think you could just see how good we can be and we were rolling,” said Clarendon, who made 5 of 10 shots.

Indiana native Katie Douglas scored 17 points to lead the Sun (9-12). She hit a 3-pointer with 13.5 seconds to play to pull the Sun within two points. Ogwunmike and Renee Montgomery each scored 11 points for the Sun.

Connecticut didn’t go away quietly. The Sun shot an impressive 70 percent from the field in the fourth quarter, but turned the ball over five times, which led to 11 Fever points. Indiana also outscored the Sun 11-0 in second-chance points during the period.

“I thought we did a great job throughout the first three quarters, but somehow we let them catch fire,” Douglas said. “Obviously, Catchings was a huge part of that.”

The Fever trailed 45-31 with 3:55 to play in the third quarter. Indiana followed with an 11-2 run that spanned the third and fourth quarter to cut the lead to single digits. January’ 3-pointer to open the fourth capped the run.

Indiana scored just nine points in the first quarter, the lowest quarter total by a Sun opponent this season.

The Fever have won four of their last five games, and Connecticut has dropped six of its last seven.