|STAR OF THE GAME
On a night when she received the WNBA's Most Improved Player award, Hoffman scored 19 points on 9-of-13 shooting.
After being held without a field goal in the first half, Catchings finished with 19 points and seven rebounds.
“We made several runs during the game but every time we closed the gap (Deanna) Nolan stepped up and knocked it down. Nolan was the key to their win. Detroit is a very athletic team. We missed too many open shots. We must do a better job of taking open shots. Ebony (Hoffman) played extremely well. She took her game to another level. We must get more productivity from Tammy (Sutton-Brown) and Katie (Douglas)."
On Playing Detroit:
“Well we’ll have to dig down deep and find it within ourselves. We’ll have to find pride in ourselves to get an extra rebound, box out and do some of the little things. We didn’t come out focused. We kind of fizzled out at the end. There weren’t a lot of rebounds to be had on defense. Nolan split us open right down the middle. You can’t stop great players. It’s a matter of slowing them down and we didn’t do that tonight.”
Points in the paint:
Fever 20, Shock 34
Fever 13, Shock 6
Fever 6, Shock 2
Points off turnovers:
Fever 24, Shock 24
Fever 54, Shock 55
Fever 18, Shock 26
INDIANAPOLIS -- Deanna Nolan scored 22 points to lead the Detroit Shock to an 81-72 victory over the Indiana Fever on Friday night in the opener of the WNBA Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.
Taj McWilliams-Franklin added 17 points and seven rebounds, and Plenette Pierson had 11 points for the Shock. Game 2 of the best-of-three series will be Sunday in Detroit.
The Shock swept Indiana in three regular-season games and have won five straight over the Fever, including the last two games of the 2007 conference finals.
Tamika Catchings posted 19 points and seven assists, Ebony Hoffman scored 19 points, and Tan White chipped in 11 for the Fever. Before the game, Hoffman was chosen as this season's most improved player in the WNBA.
To advance to the conference finals, the Fever will have to win two games in Detroit. Last year, Indiana lost at Connecticut in the first game of the opening round and then won the next two at home.
Game 3 of this series will be played Tuesday, if necessary.
The Shock, who shot 59 percent in the first half and opened a 39-29 lead, took their biggest advantage, 68-52, on Katie Smith's two free throws with 7:42 left in the fourth quarter.
Indiana cut the deficit to 77-68 on White's layup with 1 minute left, but McWilliams-Franklin pushed the lead back to 12 points with a three-point play on Detroit's ensuing possession.
The Shock's win tonight is the 21st postseason win in Head Coach Bill Laimbeer's career, moving him ahead of former Houston coach Van Chancellor as the WNBA's all-time winningest coach in the playoffs.
Nearly doubling her previous best outing, Ebony Hoffman's 19 points are her postseason career-high, as are her nine field goals made tonight. Hoffman's 3-pt FG in tonight's game was her first ever in the playoffs.
Tamika Catchings tied the Fever's playoff record with seven assists. She also had seven assists in last season's triple overtime loss at Connecticut, 8/23/07, and Coquese Washington had seven assists in Game 3 of the first round matchup with New York in 2002.
Kristen Mann's appearance tonight was her first ever in the postseason and she scored five points--her most ever in a Fever uniform. Her 3-pt FG tonight was her first for Indiana.
Tan White's 11 points are also her most ever in the post season. Her 11 points were more than she scored in the five games of the 2007 postseason, combined.
Including last year's playoffs, the Fever has now lost five straight games to the Shock and has lost two in a row at Conseco Fieldhouse.
Tamika Catchings' 11 free throws made in tonight's game are the second most ever in a single playoff game by a member of the Fever. Catchings had 16 FTM in the Fever's overtime win in Game 3 vs. Connecticut, 8/27/07.
Tully Bevilaqua's three 3-pt field goals tonight tied her most ever in the playoffs. She has hit three 3-pt FG in a postseason game nine times in her career.
Detroit's 6-11 from 3-pt range (.545) ranks as the second highest mark ever by a Fever opponent in a playoff game. The Shock were 6-10 from long distance (.600) in Game 2 of last year's Eastern Conference Finals, 9/2/07.