Red-Hot Fever Pull Away From Liberty
By CLIFF BRUNT, AP Sports Writer

Indiana 79, New York 63

INDIANAPOLIS, July 12 (AP) -- The Indiana Fever entered the All-Star break playing like champions.

The Fever won a franchise-record fifth consecutive game, 79-63 over the New York Liberty on Thursday night. Indiana (15-4) enters the weekend with the league's best record.

The Fever avoided the natural tendency to relax going into the break leading up to Sunday's All-Star game.

"One of the main things coach talked about before the game was everybody remaining focused and not looking ahead to the All-Star break and trying to go on vacation a little bit early,'' forward Tamika Catchings said.

The Fever fell behind 7-1 but outscored the Liberty 22-6 the rest of the quarter and weren't threatened again.

"We righted the ship there, then we took off,'' coach Brian Winters said.

Reserve guard Tan White scored 16 points, Tamika Whitmore scored 12 points and Anna DeForge added 11 for Indiana.

Catchings sat out the fourth quarter and fell one point short of her seventh double-double, finishing with nine points and 10 rebounds. It was the second time in three games she missed the final period because the Fever had a big lead.

"Of course, I want to get in the game, but I'm having fun watching everybody play and glad we have as much talent as we do that we can afford to do that,'' she said.

Shameka Christon and Janel McCarville led New York with 13 points apiece and Loree Moore added 12 points.

The Fever won the regular-season series with the Liberty 3-1 and improved to a league-best 8-2 at home. New York's winning streak was stopped at two games.

The Fever, who entered the game leading the league in scoring defense, held New York (10-9) to 38 percent shooting. Indiana also outrebounded the Liberty 40-30 and outscored New York's bench 38-17.

In the second quarter, Indiana's Ebony Hoffman dove over the scorer's table for a loose ball and stayed on the ground for about a minute. The Fever, leading 40-23, called a timeout.

"I just felt like they came out and played a lot harder,'' New York coach Pat Coyle said. "You're up 17 and you've got a kid diving in the stands.''

Catchings made a driving layup as time expired in the first half to give the Fever a 45-28 lead. Indiana held New York to 29 percent shooting before the break.

The Fever extended their lead to 63-41 on a 3-pointer by Sheri Sam with 1:19 left in the third quarter.

Indiana led by as many as 26 points in the fourth quarter.

Winters wasn't sure the timing was ideal for the All-Star break.

"When you're playing well, you'd like to continue it going, but some down time for some of the players that have played quite a bit of minutes might be good for them at this point in time,'' he said.

White said the Fever will be focused on getting better the second half of the season.

"We're satisfied with the five (straight) wins, but I don't think overall, we're satisfied with the performance,'' she said. "There are some things we're going to have to work on when we get back.''