INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Tamika Catchings had 23 points and four steals to help the Indiana Fever hand the Los Angeles Sparks their first two-game losing streak of the season in a 92-82 victory Tuesday night.
Despite the loss, the Sparks clinched a playoff berth. It’s the fifth straight year that the team has reached the postseason. Los Angeles is still looking for its first championship since the franchise won back-to-back titles in 2001 and 2002.
Catchings made steals on consecutive Los Angeles possessions, leading to Erica Wheeler’s give-and-go layup and Lynetta Kizer’s baseline jumper for an 86-70 lead. Kristi Toliver hit her fourth 3-pointer of the fourth quarter to pull Los Angeles to 90-82 with 56.2 seconds left, but Catchings made two free throws on the other end.
After starting the season with 20 wins in their first 21 games, the top-ranked Sparks have lost two in a row.
Toliver finished with 18 points for Los Angeles (20-3). Nneka Ogwumike had 16 points and 14 rebounds for her 12th double-double and Candace Parker added 15 points.
Kizer and Wheeler each scored 14 points for Indiana (11-12), which is ranked No. 6 in the AP poll. Briann January added 12 points and nine assists.
Wheeler scored six points in the final 2 minutes of the first half, including a driving layup with 1.9 seconds left for a 49-40 lead. Indiana led the entire second half.