STAR OF THE GAME
Katie Douglas
Douglas led the way for the Fever draining four shots from behind the arc. Douglas scored 25 points and ripped down six rebounds.
UNSUNG HERO
Tammy Sutton-Brown
Sutton-Brown provided the inside presence tonight for the Fever as she scored 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds. She was also 10 of 10 from the free-throw line
QUOTABLE
Lin Dunn
In general:
“I want to thank the fans. They were great in crunch time. Tammy Sutton-Brown really stepped up tonight. We got good help off the bench. We knew it was going to be a war. On the last shot we drew up that play for Erin (Phillips). She did a great job of using the clock. She is a warrior.”

Tamika Catchings
On physical nature of game:
“It was a physical game. But I think when you get to the playoffs the expectation and the level of intensity goes up. The aggressiveness goes up. The toughness goes up. But I think we held our own. I think throughout this season that is one of the things that we talked about, being weak as a team and being pushed around a lot. But I think we did a good job tonight of holding our own.”

HIDDEN NUMBERS
Points in the paint:
Fever 24, Liberty 32
Second-chance points:

Fever 7, Liberty 19
Fast-break points:

Fever 10, Liberty 8
Points off turnovers:

Fever 14, Liberty 21
Starters scoring:

Fever 67, Liberty 52
Bench scoring:

Fever 7, Liberty 20
Fever beats Liberty 74-72 in playoffs opener; Phillips hits game-winner in front of Aussie parents

Team Record 1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
New York 0-1 16 18 24 14 72
at Indiana 1-0 28 16 18 12 74

By Tom Rietmann | Sept. 15, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS -- Greg and Julie Phillips spent 25 hours on airplanes last weekend as they flew from their native Australia to see their daughter, Erin, play for the Indiana Fever in the WNBA Playoffs.

Erin made the trip special for her parents on Thursday night, hitting the winning shot in Indiana's stirring 74-72 victory over the visiting New York Liberty in the opening game of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

“Fantastic,” said Greg Phillips, who was an Australian Rules Football star in his homeland and now coaches the sport. “I think (Erin) should be pretty proud.”

Indeed, the entire Indiana team was proud of Phillips.

With 18 seconds remaining, the Fever set up a play called “1-4 flat.” Phillips brought the ball across midcourt with Essence Carson guarding her closely. Phillips drove into the lane, saw that she had no teammates open and made a 14-footer with 1.5 seconds remaining over the outstretched arms of Carson.

“Erin jumped up there and made it over our best defensive player,” said New York Coach John Whisenant. “Give her credit.”

Phillips said it was the first game-winning shot of her career. Afterward, she stood on the court, smiling as she looked toward her parents in the Conseco Fieldhouse stands.

“I think I gave them quite the heart attack,” said Phillips, who finished with six points after missing two games with a sprained ankle. “It was really special for them to be here.”

On New York's final possession, Cappie Pondexter turned the ball over as she rushed down the court. Tamika Catchings' defensive pressure forced the play.

Indiana had plenty of stars. Katie Douglas led the Fever with 25 points and added six rebounds. Catchings scored 15 points with six rebounds and three steals. Tammy Sutton-Brown had 14 points, including 10-of-10 free throws, and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.

“Tammy Sutton-Brown really stepped up tonight,” Fever Coach Lin Dunn said.

Indiana used a couple of big runs and 53.3 percent shooting to take a 23-9 lead in the first quarter. But when the Fever took an advantage of 15 in the second quarter, New York started chipping away. A 13-2 spurt in the third quarter brought the Liberty within 54-50, and every possession became precious thereafter.

“I'm disappointed but proud that our team came back from 15 down and had an opportunity to win at the end,” said Whisenant, whose team will host the Fever in Game 2 of the best-of-three series on Saturday.

The second game is expected to play out much like the first -- in physical fashion.

“When you get in the playoffs, the expectation and the level of intensity goes up,” Catchings said. “The toughness goes up. But I think we held our own.”

Added Douglas, who hit 4-of-7 3-point shots: “We have to be ready for the same kind of atmosphere at New York's place.”

Postgame Notes:

  • With tonight's win, the Fever extends its postseason winning streak at home against the Liberty to four straight. The Liberty has never won a playoff game in Conseco Fieldhouse.
  • Tonight's two-point win is the Fever's sixth game, and fourth win, decided by three points or less. It is the second time in five games against the Liberty to be decided by three points or less. New York won the first game of the season series, 6/10, by a score of 81-80 at Conseco Fieldhouse.
  • Already the all-time postseason career leader in steals, Tamika Catchings's three tonight give her 75 in her playoff career.
  • Katie Douglas's four 3-pt FG tied the most ever by any Fever player in the playoffs. Douglas is the sixth different Fever player to hit four 3-pt FG in a postseason game.
  • Indiana's five offensive rebounds tonight tied the second fewest it has ever collected in a playoff game.
  • Jessica Davenport scored all of the bench's seven points tonight and that is the fewest points scored by the Indiana reserves in 2011.
  • Tonight's win is the Fever's 11th (11-11) of 2011 in a game in which it is outrebounded (33-26).