INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 16 (Ticker) -- The New York Liberty became the latest team that was unable to "Catch" the Indiana Fever.

Rookie Tamika Catchings had 29 points and 11 rebounds as the Fever drew first blood in their Eastern Conference first-round series with a 73-55 victory over the Liberty in the opener.

Indiana, one of the league's hottest teams, captured its first playoff game in franchise history and won for the seventh time in eight games. Top-seeded New York has made it past the first round in each of its four playoff appearances but now faces elimination.

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Game 2 of the best-of-three series is Sunday in New York.

Catchings, who was named Rookie of the Year earlier in the day, came out on fire by making 6-of-8 shots, including three 3-pointers, and scoring 18 points in the first half. She drilled back-to-back 3-pointers and Olympia Scott-Richardson added a basket for an early 12-4 edge.

Indiana built a 35-24 halftime edge and continued to expand it in the second half. Coquese Washington drilled a 3-pointer for a 44-28 bulge and added another with 14:47 remaining to give the Fever a commanding 49-30 advantage.

Washington, a former member of the Liberty, was acquired from Houston after a loss to New York on July 19 and the Fever have won nine of 12 games since the trade. She scored 11 of her 13 points in the second half.

Tamika Whitmore led New York with 18 points. The Liberty have lost five of their last six.