INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Fever know it’s going to take a team effort to keep their season on track while forward Tamika Catchings rehabs her sore back. With Catchings yet to play this season, Indiana needs someone to fill the void every night.
It was Briann January’s turn Thursday.
The fifth-year guard scored 14 of her 20 points in the second half and the Fever won their second straight game with a 79-65 victory over Connecticut (1-4) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
“As a point guard, I feel like I’m out there trying to lead the team,” January said. “I’m super confident in our team. We have so many threats and I don’t think anyone should feel pressure, because we’re capable of playing great basketball.”
Connecticut jumped out early on the Fever, grabbing an 18-15 first-quarter lead behind some stout defense.
But Indiana came back when the Sun went more than five minutes in the second quarter without a basket. After Katie Douglas gave Connecticut a 24-20 with 5:38 left in the half, Indiana reeled off 10 unanswered points before Kayla Pedersen’s free throw ended Connecticut’s drought with 37 seconds left in the half.
After the break, the momentum — and game — belonged to January and the Fever.
January scored the first five points of the third quarter, pushing Indiana’s lead to 35-25. Her defensive pressure and willingness to push the ball for easy baskets in transition helped the Fever get control of the contest.
“(Catchings) is not there,” Fever coach Lin Dunn said. “(January) has to score more. Somebody’s got to pick up that slack. She’s playing at a very high level.”
Indiana’s lead grew to 46-31 midway through the third quarter when Shavonte Zellous hit a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired, and the Fever never looked back. Zellous finished with 14 points.
Erlana Larkins added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Fever (2-3). It was her third double-double of the season and the fourth straight game she has been in double figures in rebounds.
Indiana’s 40 free throw attempts tied a franchise record for attempts in a game. The Fever made 31 free throws, the third-most single-game total in the team’s 15-year history.
Chiney Ogwumike, the leading rookie scorer, paced the Sun (1-4) with 18 points and 15 rebounds.
Fever coach Dunn recorded her 199th career victory.