Fever Stay Alive, Beat Shock in OT

Fever 89, Shock 82 (F-OT)
Tamika Catchings had 27 points and 10 rebounds and the Indiana Fever defeated the Detroit Shock, 89-82 in overtime, to force a decisive third game in the Eastern Conference playoff series.
Indiana 89, Detroit 82

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Sept. 21 (AP) - The Indiana Fever have been knocked out of the WNBA playoffs by the Detroit Shock the last two seasons.

Sunday, they at least delayed Detroit's hat trick.

Tamika Catchings had 27 points and 10 rebounds and the Fever won 89-82 in overtime to force a decisive third game in the Eastern Conference playoff series. Game 3 is Tuesday night in Auburn Hills.

"We went to Game 3 with them in the conference finals last year, and it was a great game until Catchings got hurt,'' Indiana coach Lin Dunn said. "So we know we can compete in this situation on this floor. We just need to play another great game on Tuesday.''

Indiana came into the game with a 0-4 record against the Shock this season, including Detroit's win in Game 1 on Friday night.

"It was a hard-fought game, but give Indiana credit - they played as well as they could possibly play,'' Detroit coach Bill Laimbeer said. "They might play that well again Tuesday, but we know we have a lot of room for improvement.''

The Shock were more upset about a fourth-quarter incident that left Plenette Pierson with a shoulder injury that is expected to rule her out of Game 3.

Pierson and Ebony Hoffman got their arms tangled while battling for position on a rebound, and Pierson ended up crumpled on the floor in obvious pain.

Laimbeer immediately asked the officials to eject Hoffman, but they decided to give both players technical fouls. Hoffman then hit two key 3-pointers to help Indiana win the game.

"We don't understand how Plenette gets a technical foul on a play where there was a deliberate attempt to injure her,'' Laimbeer said.

Pierson was suspended for four games earlier this season after a fight with Los Angeles' Candace Parker, and Laimbeer practically demanded that Hoffman also get suspended.

"To just allow someone to injure one of our players, maybe for the rest of the year, that's wrong,'' he said. "If there isn't a suspension, we'll know how we stand with this league.''

Pierson said through a Shock public-relations representative that Hoffman had deliberately twisted her arm, but Hoffman saw the play differently.

"We got tangled up, and unfortunately she had to leave the game,'' she said. "There was nothing intentional. I'm sure the league will review it and see that we were both going for the ball.''

The controversy threatened to overshadow a memorable finish.

The teams made the first 43 free throws of the game before Tammy Sutton-Brown's miss with 24.8 seconds left. That left Detroit down three, and Katie Smith could only split a pair from the line at the other end.

Katie Douglas then hit one of two, leaving the Fever up 73-70 with 13.8 seconds to go. Yinka Sanni's layup made it 73-72, but Catchings made two more free throws to restore the three-point edge.

Deanna Nolan, though, came back down the floor and hit a 3-pointer with 6 seconds to play to force overtime.

"I thought we had the game wrapped up and dang if Deanna Nolan doesn't hit an NBA 3-pointer on us,'' Dunn said.

The Shock, though, struggled to hit inside, and Indiana clinched the game with consecutive 3-pointers by Hoffman and Tully Bevilaqua.

"We knew they were focused on stopping Catchings and (Tammy) Sutton-Brown, so we ran a couple plays that would get Ebony and Tully open, and they knocked down the shots,'' Dunn said.

Hoffman, who also had a key 3-pointer in the final minute of regulation, finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Sutton-Brown had 19 points for Indiana.

Nolan and Pierson scored 16 points each for Detroit, but starting center Kara Braxton finished with just six on 3-of-8 shooting.

"We need Kara to show up to play on Tuesday,'' Laimbeer said. "We have to get her more involved.''

The Shock also announced Sunday that if they advance to the Eastern Conference finals, scheduling conflicts will force them to move their home games to Eastern Michigan University's arena, about an hour from the Palace. In 2004 and 2006, the Shock played home playoff games at Joe Louis Arena in downtown Detroit for similar reasons.

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