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Catchings lifts Fever past Shock, 78-76

The Associated Press

TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- After missing the first 17 games of the season due to a sore back, Tamika Catchings appears to be quickly rounding into All-Star form.

Announced as a starter for the midseason contest earlier during the game, Catchings scored nine of her 23 points in the fourth quarter, including the tiebreaking basket with 5.2 seconds remaining to lift the Indiana Fever past the Tulsa Shock 78-76 on Tuesday night.

Catchings, playing in just her second game, also had 11 rebounds to help the Fever (9-10) recover after giving up a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter to get their third straight road win.

''We're an emotional team and we have to do better late in the game,'' Catchings said. ''We've lost six or seven games this year when we've had double-digit leads and we can't do that. Tonight, with the game on the line, Coach was looking for someone to step up and want the ball at the end. I always want the ball in that situation and we executed just like it was drawn up.''

Shavonte Zellous had 18 points for the Fever (9-10), who earned a split in the teams' season series. Tulsa won 107-102 in overtime at Indianapolis on June 25.

Skylar Diggins and Jordan Hooper combined for all of the Shock's scoring during a 13-4 run to pull Tulsa to 71-65 with 5:54 remaining. Odyssey Sims' two free throws with 54.9 seconds left cut the deficit to 76-74. Sims drew an offensive foul on Indiana's next possession and Courtney Paris' layup tied the score with 16.7 seconds to go.

That set the stage for Catchings' winning basket as she caught a pass from Erlana Larkins and made a layup.

''That play works a lot better when you have Tamika Catchings available to play,'' Indiana head coach Lin Dunn said. ''I was glad to see her improve from her last game and she helped us make some big stops in crunch time.''

Tulsa had one more chance, but Glory Johnson's shot at the buzzer hit the front rim.

Diggins, announced as a starter for the West, was 12 for 12 on free throws and finished with 23 points for Tulsa (7-12).

''At the start of the fourth quarter, we were trying to be aggressive. It really was desperation time for us,'' Diggins said. ''I was trying to attack and get to the free throw line. No matter how much we were behind, I just kept attacking.''

Despite being held without a field goal for the first 6 minutes of the third quarter, Indiana used an 8-2 spurt midway through the period to take its first double-digit lead at 57-46 on Layshia Clarendon's 3-pointer.

After jumping out to an 8-0 lead to start the game, Indiana led the majority of the first half. Johnson scored on an inside basket to pull Tulsa to 38-34. Catchings, however, answered with a 3-pointer from the top of the circle to give Indiana a seven-point lead at the break.

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