Natalie Williams scored 16 points to lead Indiana over the visiting Washington Mystics, 69-42, last night, helping the Fever post its first three-game winning streak of the season.
The victory, combined with Detroit's 66-58 win over Charlotte, moved the Fever into second place in the WNBA's Eastern Conference. Indiana (15-15) became the first team in the conference with 15 victories and moved to within a half-game of first-place New York (14-13).
Tamika Catchings added 13 points for Indiana, playing before a season-high crowd of 9,165 at Conseco Fieldhouse.
Alana Beard led Washington (12-16) with nine points and Tamicha Jackson had seven.
The Mystics' point total was the fewest allowed by Indiana in franchise history. Washington shot just 25 percent, and its three front-line starters failed to make a field goal.
"We packed it in right from the start. Our defense got a lot of people frustrated," Catchings said.
Since the Olympic break, Indiana has won three games in four days by a combined 52 points.
Before the break, the Fever had fallen to last place in the Eastern Conference with six straight losses.
"I wanted to go with the power lineup, so I moved Deanna [Jackson] to forward where she is more comfortable. That puts [Catchings] at guard where she can initiate some offense," Indiana Coach Brian Winters said.
Indiana scored the first seven points of the game and the Mystics never drew closer than six points.
The Fever led by 20 four times in the first half and held a 40-23 halftime advantage after shooting 55 percent from the field (17 of 31).
The Mystics missed their first six shots of the second half, while Indiana hits its first three, building a 51-23. The Fever led by as many as 32.
Reserve Niele Ivey sparked the Fever in the first half, scoring a season-high eight points during a 15-7 run. She hit two consecutive three-pointers to put Indiana up 21-8, then hit a jump shot and picked up an assist on a three-pointer by reserve Ebony Hoffman, giving the Fever a 26-10 lead.
Washington never got closer than 14 after that.
The Fever recorded a 36-23 advantage on the boards, led by Hoffman, who grabbed eight rebounds.
The last-place Mystics played without leading scorer Chamique Holdsclaw, who practiced with the team on Thursday. Holdsclaw was placed on the injured list Tuesday with an undisclosed health issue and will miss at least one more game.
The Fever set a franchise record with 16 assists in the first half.
"They outplayed us. They got second rebounds," Mystics Coach Michael Adams said. "And they rotated the ball better."
* SHOCK 66, STING 58: Swin Cash scored 17 points and Cheryl Ford had 10 points and 14 rebounds to lead visiting Detroit, which had five players score in double figures.
Ruth Riley added 13 points for the defending champion Shock (14-15), which ended a two-game losing streak. Deanna Nolan had 12 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists for the Shock, one game behind the first-place New York Liberty in the tightly bunched Eastern Conference.
Dawn Staley and Charlotte Smith-Taylor had 16 points apiece for Charlotte (13-15), which shot 37 percent and blew a 10-point lead.
The Shock outrebounded the Sting 37-19 and swept the season series 3-0.
* MONARCHS 80, SILVER STARS 70: In San Antonio, Yolanda Griffith scored 17 points to lead Sacramento.
Edna Campbell, 3 of 4 from the three-point line, had 15 points for Sacramento (15-13). Ticha Penicheiro contributed 13 points, 9 assists and 5 steals.
The Monarchs are fourth in the Western Conference, six games behind league-leading Los Angeles with six games left.
San Antonio (6-23) set a franchise record with nine straight losses. Adrienne Goodson, LaToya Thomas and Margo Dydek each scored 12 points for the Silver Stars.
* MERCURY 63, STORM 55: In Phoenix, Diana Taurasi scored 18 points to lift the Mercury over Seattle for its third straight win after the month-long Olympic break.
Taurasi, who scored 11 points during a key second-half stretch, added seven assists and six rebounds. Penny Taylor added 18 points and six rebounds. Sue Bird and Kamila Vodichkova led Seattle with 12 points apiece.
Seattle (17-11) trails first-place Los Angeles by four games in the Western Conference. Phoenix (15-13) is tied with Sacramento for fourth place with six games to play. The Storm played its third game without WNBA leading-scorer Lauren Jackson, who is on the injured list with a sprained right foot and is visiting her ill grandmother in Australia.