Fever Defeat Silver Stars; Lock Second Seed

SAN ANTONIO, August 17, 2007 (AP) -- Tamika Whitmore made two late baskets to help the Indiana Fever hang on wrap up the second spot in the playoffs with a 59-55 win over San Antonio on Friday night.

Indiana (20-13) outscored San Antonio 14-0 over a stretch of 3 minutes, 22 seconds late in the fourth quarter, then held off a comeback bid.

Whitmore was the only Indiana player in double figures with 12 points, and Tully Bevilaqua made her only two 3-pointers less than a minute apart during the run.

"Whitmore just got to a place where she was very efficient,'' Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes said. "I wished we would have had more team rotation because when she had the ball she scored over our defense.''

The Fever secured the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference because third-place Connecticut (18-15) lost Friday to New York.

"We have home-court in (the first round of) the playoffs, and that is huge,'' Fever forward Anna DeForge said. "That was our goal here with these last few games.''

Indiana, which had 21 victories in each of the last two years, became the first team in the East to have at least 20 in three straight seasons. Los Angeles (1999-2004) and Houston (1998-2000) accomplished the feat previously in the West.

Sophia Young scored 12 for San Antonio (20-13). Vickie Johnson had 11 and Becky Hammon added 10.

The teams combined to shoot 38 percent from the field. It was a season low in points for the Silver Stars, and Indiana's 20 points at halftime was a season low.

"Both defenses were really tough - the score showed it,'' Fever coach Brian Winters said. "We made some good adjustments at halftime, and once we got going a little bit offensively then I knew we would have a chance to win.''

San Antonio can finish no better than second behind Phoenix in the West. The Silver Stars had a half-game lead over Sacramento before the Monarchs played late Friday against Phoenix.

With 7:24 remaining, San Antonio led 44-41, but Bevilaqua's 3-pointers and four more points from Sheri Sam helped Indiana make it 55-44 with 4:02 to play. Bevilaqua finished with eight points.

San Antonio cut it to 55-53 with 1:04 remaining when rookie Camille Little hit a basket and made a free throw.

Whitmore answered with a jumper for a four-point lead before Helen Darling cut it back to two on a driving layup with 28 seconds to go. Whitmore then drive past Little with seven seconds left.

"Whitmore hit some big shots,'' Johnson said. "You can't take that away from her.''

The Silver Stars led by nine points in the first half despite a season-low 26 points. Though the Silver Stars struggled through a 5-of-16 second quarter, the Fever were 3-of-16.

The 18 points combined in the second quarter is one short of the league record for fewest combined points in a quarter. The record was set by the same two teams on May 23 last year.

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