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Monarchs-Fever Preview

Aug 29, 2009 - 4:58 AM By KATE HEDLIN STATS Writer

Sacramento (9-19) at Indiana (20-7), 7:00 p.m. EDT

All season long the Indiana Fever have been dominant at home. Now the fans at Conseco Fieldhouse have the chance to watch their team attempt to clinch its first Eastern Conference regular-season title.

The Fever look to win their franchise-record 14th consecutive home game when they meet the last-place Sacramento Monarchs on Saturday.

Indiana (20-7) guaranteed itself home-court advantage in the first round of the postseason with a 77-66 win over San Antonio on Thursday to avoid a third straight loss. After dropping their first home game of 2009, the Fever have won 13 in a row at Conseco Fieldhouse - the last four by an average of 13.0 points.

"Everybody that comes into this building sees a big target on our backs, like 'we're going to be that team to knock them down,'" said Tamika Catchings, who scored a team-high 20 against the Silver Stars. "For us as a team, we can't become complacent."

The Fever are looking to extend a five-game home winning streak against the Monarchs, who are 1-6 all-time in Indianapolis.

"Clearly, we love playing at home, which is why it's important we finish not just on top of the Eastern Conference, but overall and retain home-court advantage throughout," guard Tully Bevilaqua said.

The Fever will also be looking to exact some revenge on the last-place Monarchs (9-20), who beat Indiana 67-62 on Aug. 20 after rallying from a six-point deficit in the final 3:12. Rebekkah Brunson had 16 points and 10 rebounds in that victory.

Sacramento, which has the worst record in the WNBA, has lost two of three since, falling 100-95 at Minnesota on Friday. The Lynx set a WNBA record for 3-pointers in a regulation game with 16, but the Monarchs were able to pull within three points twice in the final minutes. Minnesota, though, hit its final four free throws to keep Sacramento from pulling out the victory.

Hamchetou Maiga-Ba scored a career-high 20 while Nicole Powell added 18 for Sacramento, which allowed 100 points for the second straight game.

"It was hard for me to tell if it was us defensively," said Monarchs coach John Whisenant, whose team fell 3 1/2 games out of the final playoff spot in the West with five games remaining, "but they were hotter than a firecracker. When you get a team shooting like that, it's really hard."

The Monarchs are 1-3 in the second game of back-to-backs.

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