Toliver helps Sky close in on 1st playoff berthSep 11, 2009 - 3:46 AM CHICAGO(AP) -- The Chicago Sky had to contend with sloppy play, turnovers and a nearly double-digit deficit. That was just in the first few minutes.
However, Chicago cleaned up its mistakes, dug out of an early deficit with strong play through the final three quarters and beat the Indiana Fever 86-79 Thursday night to close in on the franchise's first playoff berth.
Kristi Toliver came off the bench to score 19 points, Candice Dupree and Mistie Bass had 15 points each and the Sky (16-17) beat the Eastern Conference-leading Fever for the first time in four meetings this season.
"Anytime you can get that kind of contribution from the bench and then your starters come along with finish the game for you, that's a huge thing," Chicago coach Steven Key said. "It's not easy to go out and win when you have to. I thought our team did a great job going out against the league leader and showing them that we're a playoff team."
Jia Perkins added 10 points for the Sky, who led by seven entering the final quarter and stretched the advantage to 14. The Fever didn't get closer than seven again.
The Sky hold the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, one-half game ahead of Connecticut and Washington.
Toliver led a rally in the second quarter comeback, starting a 15-0 run with three consecutive 3-pointers. She had 13 points in the quarter to help the Sky took a 37-35 halftime lead.
"We came out and it was turnover, turnover, turnover and really didn't have that spark," said Bass. "Then (Toliver) came in and hit two 3-pointers and then hit another a minute later and that gave us a boost to wake up and take over the game."
Katie Douglas scored 25 points to lead Indiana (22-11). Tamika Catchings had 16 points and Shay Murphy added 10.
"We started the game really well with a lot of energy," Fever coach Lin Dunn said. "We were attacking early, then we went through a period there where we were missing our lay-ups and that let them back in the ball game.
"When Toliver came into the game it really gave them a lift offensively. We didn't really do a good job with her. We made two or three mental errors with how we were going to defend her."
Bass scored eight points in the first 4 minutes of the third quarter as the Sky opened the second half with a 10-2 run to take a 47-37 lead. The advantage twice reached 12 points before the Fever chiseled away and trimmed it to as few as five late in the period.
Each team took turns with early surges. Indiana got some distance with Douglas' driving bucket and Catchings' 3-pointer on the way to a 19-12 lead by end of the first quarter.
"Teams are fighting for their lives right now and we've seen it in the past few weeks," Douglas said. "Teams are getting desperate and its difficult playing against those kind of teams. We don't want to panic. We want to stay with our schemes."
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