Fever Clamps Down, Closes Out Liberty
September 1, 2005 at Conseco Fieldhouse (Indianapolis, Ind.)
Catchings and Miller combined for all the points in a decisive second-half surge as the Fever regrouped for a 58-50 victory over the New York Liberty and a sweep of their best-of-three Eastern Conference semifinal series.
The Fever avenged a conference semifinal loss to the Liberty in 2002, their only other appearance in the postseason. They await the winner of the Connecticut-Detroit series.
The Liberty were eliminated in the opening round for the first time in their history. An original WNBA franchise, they have made the playoffs every year except 1998 and 2003.
Named WNBA Defensive Player of the Year earlier Thursday, Catchings collected 19 points and 12 rebounds. Miller, whose late 3-pointer was the dagger in Indiana's Game One win, added 11 points.
Indiana squandered a 14-point first-half lead and trailed, 37-35, after a basket by New York's La'Keshia Frett with 7:47 to go. The hoop capped a 21-8 run to open the second half after an awful first half by the Liberty.
Catchings sank a 3-pointer and Miller made a jumper and 3-pointer to give the Fever a 43-37 advantage with 5:57 left. It was at least a two-possession game thereafter.
Natalie Williams added 13 points and 10 boards for the Fever, who won despite shooting just 28 percent (16-of-57) from the field. They made 21-of-25 free throws and held a 38-25 advantage on the glass.
Becky Hammon scored 14 points and Frett added 13 for the Liberty, who trailed, 27-16, after a first half in which they had five baskets and 11 turnovers.