INDIANAPOLIS — Seattle’s defensive scoring average looks good on paper the past two games, while its offensive numbers have been poor.
Both aspects failed the Storm on Sunday in a 71-63 loss at defending champion Indiana in front of 6,355 at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse.
With the score tied after three quarters, the Fever (3-7) shot 70 percent from the field in the fourth quarter, opening with a 10-2 run to take a 60-52 lead.
“We can’t be disappointed with our defense,” said Seattle guard Tanisha Wright. “We can evaluate it down the stretch. Overall we’ve been good, but down the stretch when you really need to make a stop and get a stop, we’ve kind of let down.”
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The Storm cut the deficit to 65-61 with two minutes remaining. Indiana’s Tamika Catchings answered with a drive to the basket. On the next possession Catchings broke down Seattle’s defense and found Jasmine Hassell for a layup, putting the Fever ahead 69-61 with 1:25 left.
“We’ve had people like (New York’s Cappie) Pondexter hurt us down the stretch (in a loss Friday),” Seattle coach Brian Agler said. “(On Sunday) it was Tamika Catchings. It’s two of the elite players in the game taking over and getting one-on-one situations.”
Indiana outrebounded the Storm 34-22, grabbing 12 offensive rebounds, with 10 of those in the second half.
“Tonight we compounded that by having 20 turnovers,” Agler said. “We’ve been pretty good in the turnover situation, but over the last couple of games we’ve given up too many second shots.”
Seattle (4-6) is averaging 65 points during its three-game losing streak. It follows a three-game winning streak in which the Storm averaged 88.3 points.
“That comes down to getting in the gym and making shots because a lot of our opportunities come down to making shots,” said Seattle guard Temeka Johnson, who scored eight points. “Not a lot of them were wide open, but we’re all basketball players and are able to make a lot of these shots we’re missing.”
Indiana nearly blew the game open early, taking a 17-4 lead midway through the first quarter, hitting three-pointers on three consecutive possessions, including a four-point play by Briann January.
Seattle answered with a 12-0 run over the first and second quarters, forcing four turnovers.
“I think it started with us defensively and we weren’t letting them be as comfortable as they were when they went on that 17-4 run,” Johnson said. “I think we picked it up a notch defensively and we started to execute offensively, taking our time and seeing what it is they were giving us.”
Shekinna Stricklen led Seattle with 11 points, while Camille Little added 10. Wright and Tina Thompson added nine points apiece.
Catchings led all scorers with 18 points, while Jessica Breland added 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Fever. Shavonte Zellous scored 14 and Karima Christmas added 12.
The Storm forced 22 Indiana turnovers but turned those into just 13 points. Seattle finished with 11 assists, after not having one in the first quarter and just five during Friday’s 67-62 loss to New York.