Mercury Fall to Fever, Series Tied at 1 Apiece
PHOENIX (AP) -- Tamika Catchings fell one rebound shy of the first triple-double in WNBA finals history and the Indiana Fever beat the Phoenix Mercury 93-84 on Thursday night to square the best-of-five series 1-1.
Catchings had 19 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds to help the Fever steal home-court advantage in the series with the next two games in Indianapolis, beginning with Game 3 on Sunday.
The WNBA defensive player of the year for the third time, Catchings also harassed league MVP Diana Taurasi into a 7-for-22 shooting night. Taurasi finished with 20 points.
The cold-shooting Mercury were without supersub Penny Taylor most of the second half. The Aussie, who scored all 14 of her points in the first half, left with a cut lip with 3:33 to play in the third quarter.
Taurasi was 2 of 10 on 3-pointers and teammate Cappie Pondexter 0 of 4.
The Mercury struggled on offense two nights after a 120-116 overtime victory in Game 1, the highest-scoring contest in WNBA history. Phoenix shot 39.7 percent for the game and was just 5 of 20 in the third quarter, when the Fever built a 17-point lead.
Catchings led six Indiana players in double figures. Rookie Briann January, a standout at nearby Arizona State, added 16 points, as did Ebony Hoffman. Tammy Sutton-Brown and Katie Douglas each scored 14, and Jessica Davenport added 10.
Temeka Johnson had 14 for Phoenix. Pondexter shot 5 of 16 en route to 12 points. Tangela Smith also scored 12 for the Mercury.
The Fever, in their first WNBA finals, took control with a 12-2 run, taking a 71-55 after Catchings made two free throws with 2 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter. Davenport scored the first five points of the run.
Indiana's biggest lead was 77-60 on Hoffman's 7-footer with 5.6 seconds left in the third. Johnson's 3-pointer at the buzzer made it 77-63 entering the fourth.
A late 14-5 run cut the Fever's lead to 85-80 on Taurasi's layup with 1:23 to play. But Sutton-Brown responded with a basket inside, then January and Douglas put the game away with free throws.
Down by 12 in the first quarter, the Mercury came back with a 15-2 surge to go up 34-33 on Taurasi's 13-footer with 6:52 left in the half. Taylor scored nine in the run, including a three-point play and a 3-pointer.
January made a layup and a 3-pointer in a 9-0 spurt that put Indiana back on top 46-41 2:13 before the break. The Fever led 48-45 at the half.
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