Amazingly, there’s not much to be said about Indiana’s 88-79 Game 1 win over the Mystics that hasn’t been detailed extensively already.
In four regular season games, the two teams played tight for three quarters and then the Fever dominated the fourth to win each one. And the exact same thing happened Thursday night at Comcast Center.
Washington took a 58-56 lead into the fourth quarter only to be outscored 32-21 in the final period. Including the four regular-season games, Indiana has now outscored Washington 134-91 in the fourth quarter.
“The biggest thing is just to stay focused,” Mystics point guard Lindsey Harding said. “This isn’t the only game we’ve done this. This is déjà vu all over again. We just have to be able to be physically and mentally strong to fight in the fourth quarter. It’s almost as if they are playing hard, but then they turn it on to another level. We have the capability to do that, but we just need to learn once we get going to keep putting it on.”
The Mystics played well for three quarters and then completely fell apart in the fourth. Indiana scored the first 11 points of the decisive period, and the Mystics surely gave them help to do it.
Whether it was turnovers or blown defensive assignments, the Mystics gave the Fever plenty of easy looks.
“It was just mental lapses,” Crystal Langhorne said. “Their points were off our turnovers and our mistakes and it led to their layups.”
MVP candidate Tamika Catchings had a monster 26-point, 12-rebound performance for the Fever. While Washington led for most of the first three quarters, Catchings kept Indiana within striking distance.
She also had the most important basket of the game. When the Mystics drew to within 79-76 with 1:59 remaining, Catchings silenced the crowd with a clutch three-point play on the other end.
And she got sufficient support from Indiana’s other All-Star, Katie Douglas, who had 19 points.
“We know that they are dying to win a championship, and we need to all help,” Harding said. “One-on-one, it’s very hard to guard either one of them. At times we did well helping, but towards the end we kind of faded away and were more concerned about our own player.”