From Comcast SportsNetINDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Tamika Catchings finally has the only title that was missing from her incredible basketball resume -- a WNBA championship.She scored 25 points to help the Indiana Fever win their first WNBA title with an 87-78 victory over the Minnesota Lynx on Sunday night.Catchings, who was the MVP of the Finals, averaged 22.3 points in the series, which the Fever won 3-1 over the defending WNBA champions."When you come into this league, your goal and dream is to win a WNBA championship," Catchings said. "Twelve years later ... it's so sweet right now."Catchings had won three Olympic gold medals and an NCAA championship at Tennessee in 1998, but never a WNBA one. She had been in a position to clinch at home before. The Fever led Phoenix 2-1 in the best-of-five WNBA Finals in 2009, but the Mercury beat the Fever 90-77, took the series back to Phoenix and won the title at home in Game 5.This time, Catchings took it home with college coach Pat Summitt looking on in the crowd.The Fever won even though No. 2 scorer Katie Douglas missed most of the series with a severely sprained left ankle. Douglas checked in with 3.2 seconds left to a loud ovation.Erin Phillips added 18 points and eight rebounds while Shavonte Zellous and Briann January each had 15 points for the Fever.Minnesota was trying to become the first team to repeat since Los Angeles in 2001 and 2002."It was hard being the hunted, as we all know," Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said. "There's a reason this hasn't been done in over 10 years. I really felt like if there was a team that could do it, it was our team."Indiana held Minnesota below 40 percent shooting in all three wins."They played good defense," Minnesota guard Lindsay Whalen said. "They contested shots and they made it tough for us to get in the lane a little bit. I think that was the theme of the whole series. They were just tough, and give them credit for the way they played."Indiana led 63-58 at the end of the third quarter of Game 4. Minnesota cut Indiana's lead to 70-67 on a jumper by Maya Moore, but Phillips scored on a drive past Moore, got a defensive rebound, then found Shavonte Zellous for a 3-pointer from the left corner to give the Fever a 75-67 lead with 4:58 remaining.Indiana led by at least five points the rest of the way. A 3-pointer by January gave Indiana an 80-72 lead with 1:18 to play. Reeve was called for a technical with 57.6 seconds remaining, Catchings made the free throw and the Fever took an 81-74 lead. Zellous made two more free throws with 27.2 seconds to play, and Fever fans began celebrating.Seimone Augustus, Minnesota's leading scorer in the playoffs, was held to eight points on 3-for-21 shooting on Sunday. She shot 6-for-30 in the final two games of the series after the Fever switched January over to guard her.Catchings said January, who was on the WNBA first-team all-defense squad, did her job."I think she set the tone," Catchings said. "All her (Augustus') baskets were hard. She used up all her energy in the first quarter."Whalen scored 22 points and Moore added 16 points for the Lynx, who were vying to become the first team to win consecutive titles since Los Angeles in 2001 and 2002.Moore picked up her third foul with 6:13 left in the second quarter. Reeve, who was fined for her jacket-tossing tantrum in Game 2, became animated again while disagreeing with the call. As the crowd erupted, Reeve waved hello and made the motion for a technical foul.This time, Reeve's antics didn't help much as in Game 2, when her team pulled away from a tight contest after her technical foul for a convincing win. Minnesota tied the game three times in the second quarter, but the Fever closed with a 7-2 run, including a 3-pointer by Phillips, to take a 47-42 lead at halftime. Whalen scored 14 points in the first half to keep the Lynx in the game, often scoring on uncontested drives. Minnesota hung tough, despite Augustus shooting 2-for-13 in the first half.It was right there for the Fever."Coming into halftime, we said we have 20 minutes and we're not trying to go back to to Minnesota to close this thing out," Zellous said.Indiana started the second half on a 9-4 run, including two buckets by Catchings, to take a 56-46 lead.Minnesota came right back. A driving layup by Moore cut Indiana's lead to 56-54 and forced the Fever to call timeout.Minnesota tied the game on another drive by Moore, but the Fever responded with a 3-pointer by Catchings and a basket by Jessica Davenport to push the lead back to five by the end of the quarter.Indiana then closed the deal at home in front of a sellout crowd."They made some huge runs at us and gave it everything at us, and I'm just relieved more than anything because we deserve this," Phillips said. "We've been through so much as a team, we've lost in crucial times and we've stuck together. I'm just so proud right now."
Three things we learned from the Boston Red Sox’ 11-9 loss to the Minnesota Twins . . .
1) David Price isn’t having fun
Boston’s $217 million-dollar arm had another rough outing -- this time against a team that already has 60 losses.
Those are the team’s he’s supposed to dominate.
“It’s been terrible,” Price said on how his season has gone following the loss. “Just awful.”
Price’s mistakes have often been credited to mechanical mishaps this year. Farrell mentioned that following his start in New York, Price spent time working on getting more of a downhill trajectory on his pitches.
But Price doesn’t think his issue is physical.
So it must be mental -- but he doesn’t feel that’s the case either.
“Honestly I don’t think it’s either one of those,” Price said when asked which he thought was a factor. “It’s me going out there and making pitches. “
But when it comes down to the barebones, pitching -- much like anything else -- is a physical and mental act.
So when he says it’s neither, that’s almost impossible. It could be both, but it has to be one.
His mind could be racing out on the mound from a manifestation of the issues he’s had throughout the season.
Or it could just be that his fastball isn’t changing planes consistently, like Farrell mentioned.
Both could be possible too, but it takes a certain type of physical approach and mental approach to pitch -- and Price needs to figure out which one is the issue, or how to address both.
2) Sandy Leon might be coming back to Earth
Over his last five games, Boston’s new leading catcher is hitting .176 (3-for-17), dropping his average to .395.
A couple things have to be understood. His average is still impressive. In the five games prior to this dry spell, Leon went 7-for-19 (.368) But -- much like Jackie Bradley Jr. -- Leon hasn’t been known for his offensive output throughout his career. So dry spells are always tests of how he can respond to adversity and make necessary adjustments quickly.
Furthermore, if he’s not so much falling into a funk as opposed to becoming the real Sandy Leon -- what is Boston getting?
Is his run going to be remembered as an exciting run that lasted much longer than anyone expected? Or if he going to show he’s a legitimate hitter that can hit at least -.260 to .280 with a little pop from the bottom of the line-up?
What’s more, if he turns back into the Sandy Leon he’s been throughout his career, the Red Sox will have an interesting dilemma on how to handle the catching situation once again.
3) Heath Hembree has lost the momentum he gained after being called up.
Following Saturday’s contest, the right-hander was demoted to Triple-A Pawtucket after an outing where he went 1/3 of an inning, giving up a run on three hits -- and allowing some inherited runners to score.
Hembree at one point was the savior of the bullpen, stretching his arm out over three innings at a time to bail out the scuffling Red Sox starting rotation that abused it’s bullpen.
His ERA is still only 2.41 -- and this has been the most he’s ever pitched that big league level -- but the Red Sox have seen a change in him since the All-Star break.
Which makes sense, given that hitters have seven hits and two walks against him in his 1.1 innings of work -- spanning four games since the break.
“He’s not confident pitcher right now,” John Farrell said about Hembree before announcing his demotion. “As good as Heath has been for the vast majority of this year -- and really in the whole first half -- the four times out since the break have been the other side of that.”
Joe Kelly will be the pitcher to replace Hembree and Farrell hopes to be able to stretch him out over multiple innings at a time, as well.
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