|STAR OF THE GAME
Miller shot 7-of-11 from the floor and drained three 3-points Thursday to pace the Fever. She hit two free throws with 25.1 seconds remaining to seal the win.
Jackson came off the bench to score in double figures for the second time in three games. She scored 10 points with five rebounds in 20 minutes, and added the game's final free throws with 12.1 seconds on the clock. Jackson was called upon to attack the basket when the Fever offense became stagnant midway through the first half and the Fever trailing as many as 10. Down 20-11 at Jackson's first entry to the game, Indiana outscored the Liberty 56-39.
On the Fever's 3-point shooting:
“Kelly [Miller]’s shooting percentage had been down a little bit, but I knew that wouldn’t last. Tully is a very smart player and a quality shooter. She might not take a lot of shots, but they’re usually very good shots. And Tully has a knack for hitting the big shots.”
On improved play in the second half:
“We played the second half like we did the end of the first half. We were more aggressive to the basket and we played very steady. That is how we have to play to win games.”
Points in the paint:
Liberty 30, Fever 26
Fever 4, Liberty 2
Fever 15, Liberty 6
Points off turnovers:
Fever 11, Liberty 9
Liberty 51, Fever 44
Fever 23, Liberty 8
Box Score |
||Fever 67, Liberty 59
May 26, 2005 at Madison Square Garden (New York, N.Y.)
NEW YORK—The Indiana Fever overcame a 10-point first half deficit to win at Madison Square Garden for the third straight time, and become the first team in franchise history to open a season with three straight victories, defeating the New York Liberty in WNBA action Thursday night, 67-59. New York opened the season with its second straight setback.
Tamika Catchings' 10-foot turnaround jumper gave Indiana (3-0) a 61-54 lead with 55 seconds to play, and after the Liberty's Ann Wauters hit two free throws, Deanna Jackson took a full-court inbounds pass for a breakaway layin to keep the seven-point advantage. Kelly Miller and Jackson both hit a pair of charity tosses in the final 25 seconds for an 11-point lead. New York's Crystal Robinson hit a 3-pointer with 3.3 seconds to play.
Miller led the Fever with 19 points, shooting 7-for-11 from the floor and connecting on 3-of-6 3-point attempts, but it was a decisive rebounding edge (32-22), another superb effort from the Fever bench, and a change in tempo that brought the Fever back from some stale early minutes.
The Fever trailed 18-8 early, with New York (0-2) controlling the early going by making nine of its first 11 shots (82 percent). Indiana made just five of its first 18 (28 percent) while becoming increasingly reliant on its perimeter shooting. In came Jackson and Tan White, however, and the momentum turned.
From the moment that Jackson entered the game, with 9:00 remaining in the first half and the Fever trailing 20-11, the Fever outscored the Liberty 56-39. With White and Jackson both cutting and slashing to the basket, the duo combined to score 12 of Indiana's final 19 points of the half. Jackson's 16-foot jumper gave the Fever its first lead of the game with 2:21 left in the half, and the Fever took a 30-29 lead to the locker room following jumpers by White and Miller.
Robinson opened the second half with her second of four 3-pointers, staking the Liberty to a momentary lead, but Tully Bevilaqua answered with a three of her own, and after Catchings' layup with 15:36 to play, New York never led again. Catchings' basket triggered a 17-7 Fever run, pushing the lead to nine, 52-43, capped by a 3-point play by Ebony Hoffman and White's driving layup through traffic.
A pair of free throws by Ann Wauters and Robinson's third triple brought New York within 54-51 with 4:11 remaining, but Miller drilled her final 3-pointer with 3:22 showing. Becky Hammon missed the front end of a bonus free throw situation and Natalie Williams' bank shot kept the Fever lead at seven with 1:34 to play and the teams matched baskets the rest of the game.
Jackson scored 10 off the bench as the Fever reserves outscored New York 23-8. Catchings added eight points, five rebounds and a game-high six assists. Bevilaqua, the WNBA's leading active 3-point shooter, buried all three 3-point attempts on the night to finish with nine points. White added eight.
Robinson and Wauters each scored 15 points for the Liberty.
Indiana travels to Houston on Sunday (3:00 p.m.), and due to network conflicts with coverage of the Indianapolis 500, Sunday’s game will be aired on ESPN950 instead of WIBC 1070-AM. Veteran Purdue broadcaster Tim Newton will call the play-by-play with Jane Schott providing color analysis. Newton will call his first Fever action, in place of Chris Denari and Kevin Lee, both of whom serve on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network.
Indiana is 3-0 for the first time in franchise history.
After losing at Madison Square Garden in each of its first five tries from 2000-03, the Fever have won three straight at the Garden since its first win on Aug. 22, 2003. Last year's road loss at New York, in overtime to knock the Fever from playoff contention, was played at Radio City Music Hall.
After beginning the game on such opposite ends of the shooting spectrum, Indiana finished by shooting 44.8 percent and New York shot 44.7 percent.
Indiana has had a different scoring leader in each of its three games - Deanna Jackson (12) vs. Charlotte; Tamika Catchings (28) vs. Phoenix; Kelly Miller (19) at New York.
The Fever has had at least five different players score seven points or more in each of its three games, with six different players reaching double figures.