|STAR OF THE GAME
Sutton-Brown led all scorers with 17 points, including 11 in the first half. She also added seven rebounds.
Catchings was one of four players in double-figures for the Fever. She also filled the stat sheet with eight rebounds, five assists and three assists.
“I’m absolutely thrilled for our players, staff, and community. We did a good job of battling all game. We actually won the boards, which is good because we only shot 37%. We did a good job of making Detroit defend the dribble drive. Many thanks go to Larry Bird for providing tickets and to the community for coming out. In the end, we missed some shots we should have made. Our goal is not to play in the finals, but to win it. It is so sweet because we beat the defending champs. But most sweet because we won it at home.”
On the game:
“We all know the history of this game. It wasn’t as physical as yesterday’s game. We came ready to play. We were focused. Ebony (Hoffman) hit some shots down the stretch. Last night was a battle. Tonight was the war. We wanted to attack the basket and we were able to get them in foul trouble. Zellous (Shavonte) and Nolan (Deanna) killed us in game one. Tonight we made some adjustments on the baseline to have our post step out against Nolan and help slow her down. It was great to look out and see the fan support. Our fans are our sixth man. Thank you, Larry Bird.”
Points in the paint:
Fever 22, Shock 28
Fever 12, Shock 15
Fever 7, Shock 5
Points off turnovers:
Fever 24, Shock 28
Fever 57, Shock 55
Fever 15, Shock 12
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Indiana Fever advanced to the WNBA Finals for the first time, beating the defending champion Detroit Shock 72-67 on Saturday night in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.
The Fever, who had been eliminated by the Shock in this round the last three seasons, open the finals on Tuesday against Phoenix or Los Angeles.
The Fever and their Conseco Fieldhouse crowd, listed at 18,165 after Pacers President Larry Bird bought the entire balcony and gave the tickets away, roared at the finish.
Tammy Sutton-Brown led the Fever with 17 points. Katie Douglas scored 14, and Ebony Hoffman and Tamika Catchings added 10 apiece. Catchings also had eight rebounds, five assists and three steals.
The Fever made their last 16 free throws, all in the fourth quarter.
Deanna Nolan had 16 points for Detroit. Alexis Hornbuckle scored 15 before fouling out with 18 seconds to play. Cheryl Ford finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Hornbuckle drove the lane for a layup, trimming the deficit to 68-67 with 19 seconds left. Hornbuckle fouled Hoffman on the ensuing inbounds pass, and she swished both free throws for another three-point margin.
Nolan missed a 3-pointer, and the ball went to the Fever after it was tipped out of bounds. Nolan fouled Douglas on the inbounds pass, and she swished both free throws for the final margin with 8.5 seconds left. Nolan missed a 3-pointer and Catchings grabbed an emphatic rebound as time expired.
With Catchings guarding Nolan, the Shock missed four of their last five shots.
The Fever scored the last seven points of the first quarter and the first two of the second to build a 28-21 lead. But Nolan hit back-to-back 3-pointers to fuel a 12-0 run by the Shock that put the visitors ahead 33-28 with six minutes to play in the period.
Indiana led 40-38 at intermission.
The only basket by either team over the first four minutes of the second half was a left-corner jumper by Nolan that tied the score at 40. The Shock outscored the Fever 12-9 in the third quarter to take a 50-49 lead.
With tonight's win, the Fever advances to the WNBA Finals for the first time in its history. The Finals will begin on Tuesday, Sept. 29 on the home floor of the higher seed. If the L.A. Sparks defeat Phoenix later tonight, the series will begin at Conseco Fieldhouse, otherwise the series will begin in Phoenix.
The Eastern Conference Champions, the Fever completed a perfect 14-0 mark at home against teams from the East.
The Fever tied a franchise opponent record by forcing the Shock into 24 turnovers for the second straight night.
With tonight's win, the Fever sweeps a back-to-back for the second time this season and those are the only sweeps of a back-to-back for Indiana since June 2005.
Indiana's nine points in the third period tonight represent its third fewest ever in a quarter of a playoff game.
The Fever shot 28-31 FT tonight (.903) for the highest single-game free throw percentage in a playoff contest in Fever history.
With 21 tonight, the Fever had 20+ turnovers in a postseason game for the fifth time in its history, and the first time since having 21 at Detroit, 9/23/08. Its 21 miscues tonight ties the Fever's second most ever in a playoff game.
After leading her team with 12 points in the first half on 4-10 FG, 2-3 3-pt FG and 2-2 FT, Detroit's Deanna Nolan scored just four points in the second half on 2-8 FG and 0-3 3-pt FG.
Registering her first double-double of the 2009 playoffs, Cheryl Ford posted 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
Behind three players with five or more rebounds each, the Fever outrebounded Detroit, 32-31, for the first time in the series.