Shock Ends Fever’s Season For Third Straight Year
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AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) -- Deanna Nolan scored 21 points, Katie Smith added 15, and the Detroit Shock advanced to the Eastern Conference finals for the third straight year with an 80-61 victory over the Indiana Fever on Tuesday night.
The Shock, who led by as many as 31 points in the first half, will face the Liberty in the conference finals, with Game 1 on Friday in New York. Detroit has home-court advantage in the series, but due to a scheduling conflict, they will play their home games at Eastern Michigan University, about an hour from their normal home at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
Tammy Sutton-Brown led the Fever with 20 points and Tamika Catchings scored 15.
The Shock came into the game angered by an incident in Game 2 that saw star forward Plenette Pierson suffer a dislocated shoulder after being flipped to the court by Indiana's Ebony Hoffman. Hoffman was fined by the league, but not suspended.
That meant she was on the floor for Tuesday's opening tip while Pierson was on the Detroit bench with her right arm in a sling.
It didn't matter.
The Shock scored the game's first 12 points, led 30-7 at the end of the first quarter and continued to pour it on in the second period.
The half might have been summed best by the final 20 seconds. Indiana held the ball for a last shot, despite trailing by 30 points, and Sutton-Brown hit a layup with 7.1 seconds to play.
The shot turned out to be meaningless, though, as Nolan dribbled through a static Indiana defense and hit a buzzer-beating jumper that gave Detroit a 49-19 lead at the break.
Nolan, Taj McWilliams-Franklin and Smith combined for 34 points in the half, while Indiana's trio of Katie Douglas, Tamika Catchings and Hoffman were scoreless on 0-for-12 shooting.
The Fever made their first serious run in the third quarter, starting the period with a 22-5 run to cut the margin to 54-41. During one stretch, Douglas had breakaway layups on three straight possessions as the Shock began to look rattled.
Detroit moved the lead to 60-43 at the end of the period, then scored the first five points of the fourth and cruised to the victory.