7:00 PM ET, May 31, 2014
Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
Paced by point guard Briann January, the Indiana Fever appear to have finally found a rhythm without their top player.The Fever will try for a third consecutive victory Saturday night against the visiting New York Liberty.Though Indiana (2-3) opened with three straight defeats, the first two came by a combined five points. The Fever managed to clear that hurdle to see some positive results in the last two contests while waiting for star Tamika Catchings to make her season debut that remains on hold due to a back injury.January never averaged more than 10.3 points in her first five seasons, but leads the Fever at 15.0 per contest. After scoring nine points on 4-of-11 shooting during a 74-71 loss at Chicago on May 16, January has averaged 16.5 and shot 45.2 percent in the last four games."(Catchings) is not there," said Fever coach Lin Dunn, who will try for her 200th professional coaching victory Saturday. "(January) has to score more. Somebody's got to pick up that slack. She's playing at a very high level."January scored 14 of her 20 points in the second half of Indiana's 79-65 home win over Connecticut on Thursday."As a point guard, I feel like I'm out there trying to lead the team," said January, who is 11 of 17 from 3-point range.She received plenty of support Thursday with Erlana Larkins and Shavonte Zellous each scoring 14 and Marissa Coleman adding 11."I'm super confident in our team," said January, who averaged 12.6 points while Indiana went 3-2 against the Liberty (2-3) last season and scored 21 during a 77-72 home loss to New York on July 23."We have so many threats and I don't think anyone should feel pressure, because we're capable of playing great basketball," she added.Larkins (11.8 points per game), who can set a career high with her third straight double-double, is averaging a league-leading 13.0 rebounds, and 14.3 in the last four. However, she pulled down more than eight boards only once in five games versus the Liberty last year.She'll match up with New York's Tina Charles, who is among the WNBA leaders averaging 11.2 rebounds per contest. Charles averaged 22.0 points and recorded two doubles-doubles in three games against the Fever last season with Connecticut.She totaled 30 and 10 at Indiana on June 12.Charles averaged 18.0 points and 13.3 rebounds in the previous three games before she was held to eight while going 4 of 11 from the field and grabbed seven boards during New York's 68-60 loss at Washington on Friday."They just double-teamed her and Tina ventured out of the post," Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said. "She's learning that teams are going to come at her with two or three players right now, and it's a little frustrating for her right now. We're trying to work her way through that one."Cappie Pondexter finished with 20 on 9-of-14 shooting for the Liberty, who have lost three of four since opening with a 75-54 win at Connecticut.