By Chris Bernucca

July 19, 2008: Scoreboard | Video Play of the Day | Today in the WNBA Archive

Dusk set in and the lights went on over the cavernous Arthur Ashe Stadium at the USTA Tennis Center. But that didn't seem to affect Indiana Fever guard Katie Douglas, who got inside for two of her 20 points in the inaugural Liberty Outdoor Classic. The historic contest drew a crowd of 19,393, which saw the Fever knock off the host Liberty.
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images
Liberty Outdoor Classic A Game For The Ages

Fever beat the heat and the Liberty: It will go down in history as a defining moment for the WNBA, which clearly raised its profile with Saturday's Liberty Outdoor Classic, the first outdoor regular-season pro basketball game. A crowd of 19,393 filled Arthur Ashe Stadium at the USTA Tennis Center and saw day turn to night as the Indiana Fever and New York Liberty battled each other - and the elements. Despite the 7:30 p.m. tip-off, game-time temperature was still a sweltering 87 degrees. "All of us came out with a lot of energy, but eventually that energy ran out and then on top of that you have the heat," said Fever forward Tamika Catchings, who had 15 points, nine rebounds, four assists and four steals. The Fever seemed less affected by the heat than the Liberty, who had won three in a row but never held the lead as they established season lows for points (55), field goals (18) and shooting percentage (.286). "Too many things affected us and I am not referring to the outside factors," Liberty coach Pat Coyle said. "I mean our play on the court was disappointing." New York (12-10) had a chance to put some more distance between itself and Indiana (11-11), which ended a two-game slide. "I hope we can really enjoy this, really remember what it feels like and start building on this," Fever guard Katie Douglas said. That shouldn't be too hard.

You mean there were other games?: The other games on Saturday's slate were played indoors but were not devoid of their own drama. San Antonio lost at home for just the second time this season - and fell out of first place in the Western Conference. The Silver Stars are now 11-2 at the AT&T Center - their other loss was a one-point setback to Houston on June 24 - and percentage points behind the Seattle Storm in the West. However, San Antonio did not give up any ground to Los Angeles, which saw its road woes continue with an overtime loss at Houston. The Sparks have dropped five straight road games dating to June 14, when they won at Sacramento to improve to 5-1 away from home. The Comets somehow won despite combined 2-of-19 shooting from Tina Thompson and Shannon "Pee Wee" Johnson and are one of four teams separated by a half-game that are vying for the final playoff spot in the wild, wild West.
"It shows WNBA basketball is truly coming into its own. It shows the New York fans, their love and embrace of the Liberty. And I think it shows we're trendsetters because we make history tonight with the first professional basketball game being played outdoors."

-- WNBA president Donna Orender, speaking before the inaugural Liberty Outdoor Classic at Arthur Ashe Stadium at the USTA Tennis Center.

Seimone Augustus, Lynx
30 pts, 12-15 FG, 6-7 FT
87-74 win at Silver Stars

Brooke Smith, Mercury
9 pts, 4-4 FG, 1-1 FT
110-84 win vs. Dream

Becky Hammon, Silver Stars
24 pts, 7-13 FG, 3-6 3-pt FG, 7-9 FT
87-74 loss vs. Lynx

Shameka Christon, Liberty
2-13 FG, 1-6 3-pt FG, 9 pts
71-55 loss vs. Fever

Tina Thompson, Comets
1-11 FG, 0-2 3-pt FG, 3 pts
75-72 win (OT) vs. Sparks

Jennifer Lacy/Ann Strother, Dream
combined 0-12 FG, 0-4 3-pt FG, 1 pt
110-84 loss at Mercury

Sunday's Games ...

  • Chicago at Connecticut, 1 p.m. ET
  • Seattle at Washington, 4 p.m. ET (NBA TV)
  • Sacramento at Detroit, 6 p.m. ET (NBA TV)
  • Bird

    There's only one rookie averaging more points per game than Minnesota Lynx guard Candice Wiggins. The 5-11 mighty mite from Stanford has given the Lynx a legitimate second option alongside Seimone Augustus as she has been held to single digits just once this season. Wiggins had averaged "just" 11.7 points in a recent three-game stretch before scoring a season-high 27 points in Thursday's loss at Houston. She followed that with 24 points Saturday - including 10-of-10 free throws - as Minnesota knocked off San Antonio and became just the second team this year to win at the AT&T Center.
    The Phoenix Mercury know who their top two options are - Diana Taurasi and Cappie Pondexter, the top two scorers in the league. But they have been unable to develop any consistency from their other players, which has been a factor in the sputtering start by the defending champions. In Saturday's home rout of Atlanta, that was not a problem as eight players scored at least nine points. Among them were reserves Kelly Mazzante (5.4 ppg), who scored 11 points; Allie Quigley (2.4 ppg), who also scored 11; and Brooke Smith, who scored nine without missing a shot in her second game of the season.