Tamika Catchings leads Fever past Mercury, into playoffs

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Fever seem to have no problem adjusting their style of play against the high-scoring Phoenix Mercury.

Tamika Catchings scored 29 and the Fever set a franchise record for points scored in a 110-90 victory over Phoenix on Friday night, their fourth straight win.

Indiana, which entered Friday averaging 78.4 points, beat the Mercury 104-82 less than a week ago in Phoenix.

"It definitely fits into our favor," Catchings said of playing an up-tempo game. "Everybody that comes in, from one to 11, is ready to play and we're all ready to get up and down."

Katie Douglas had 19 points and Tammy Sutton-Brown added 15 for the Fever (20-10), who clinched a playoff berth for the sixth consecutive season. Indiana remains first in the Eastern Conference, 1 1/2 games ahead of New York, with four games left.

"It's a great accomplishment," Douglas said. "A lot of teams are hungry for the things this franchise has continued to do. It's something you should enjoy for a short moment and then get back to work."

After losing to the Mercury in last year's WNBA Finals, the Fever aren't satisfied with simply making the playoffs.

"We have some higher, more lofty goals," Douglas said. "It's a first step."

Temeka Johnson scored 23 points, Diana Taurasi had 22 and Candice Dupree scored 20 for the Mercury (14-16), who remain in second place in the Western Conference despite losing their third straight game.

"Indiana played well," Johnson said. "They're clicking at the right time."

Phoenix tried to make it interesting in the fourth quarter after falling behind by 12. The Mercury's Kara Braxton outscored the Fever 7-2 to begin the period and get Phoenix within 82-75.

The Mercury cut the deficit to six on several occasions, including 92-86 on Penny Taylor's jumper with 5 minutes left. However, Indiana answered with five straight points from Catchings and Sutton-Brown's layup to regain control. During the spurt, Catchings made an off-balance layup while falling after being pushed by Tangela Smith.

"For us, it's a matter of staying focused," Catchings said. "Phoenix is already a running team, and one of the things they want to focus on is making you turn the ball over or getting the rebounds and running off. We did a great job containing everybody, getting the ball and running the ball up the court."

Indiana shot nearly 53 percent in the first half and led by as much as 11 points. Phoenix used 16 points from Johnson in the opening half to get to 54-46 at the break.

The Fever stretched the lead back to 71-57 on Catchings' jumper midway through the third quarter. Briann January's basket made it 80-68 entering the fourth.

"It's nice to sweep the defending champs," Fever coach Lin Dunn said. "Our players were very focused in Phoenix and also for tonight's game. We got good production from everyone."

The Mercury weren't dwelling on the loss.

"Now we have to take it to New York," Taurasi said.