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Zellous leads Fever past Sky in WNBA playoffs


11:25 AM September 21st, 2013

September 21st, 2013 11:25 AM

Indiana Fever guard Briann January, left, fouls Chicago Sky forward Swin Cash during the second half in Game 1 of the WNBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinal series on Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, in Rosemont, Ill. The Fever won 85-72. AP

ROSEMONT, Illinois — Shavonte Zellous scored 20 points to lead the defending-champion Indiana Fever in an 85-72 victory over the Chicago Sky in the opener of their WNBA Eastern Conference semifinal series Friday.

Briann January and Karima Christmas had 16 points each, Erlana Larkins added 12 points and 11 rebounds, and Tamika Catchings scored 11 points for the Fever.

Elena Delle Donne scored 20 points to lead Chicago after receiving the league’s Rookie of the Year award before the game. Epiphanny Prince had 19 points and Sylvia Fowles, selected as the WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, added 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Indiana, the only playoff team with a losing record in the regular season, was in control for most of the night against the conference’s top seed.

Catchings’ basket with 5:36 left in the third quarter gave the Fever a 19-point lead, and the Sky got no closer than 12 the rest of the way against a defense that allowed a league-low 70.5 points per game.

For Chicago, it was a disappointing start to the franchise’s first playoff appearance.

In their eighth season, the Sky had a team-record 24 wins and led the East by seven games. However, they lost to Indiana for the fourth time in five meetings this year.

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