Fever Take Series Lead by Winning Game 3
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Tamika Catchings had 14 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists as the Indiana Fever moved within one victory of the WNBA title Sunday with an 86-85 win over the Phoenix Mercury in Game 3 of the finals.
The Mercury's Tangela Smith missed a jumper from the foul line as time expired.
The Fever took a 2-1 lead in the series and can clinch their first championship with a win at home Wednesday.
Ebony Hoffman led the Fever with 18 points. Briann January scored 17, and Katie Douglas had 15.
Cappie Pondexter led Phoenix with 23 points and Le'Coe Willingham added 17. Diana Taurasi, the league's MVP, scored 18 points but shot 6-for-16 from the field.
There were seven lead changes and three ties in the second half.
The series has been tight throughout, with Phoenix winning Game 1 in overtime and Indiana taking Game 2 93-84 on Thursday.
The lead seesawed throughout the fourth quarter.
Hoffman's long shot from the left corner put Indiana ahead with 57 seconds left. The officials reviewed the shot to determine if she was behind the arc and concluded it was a 2-pointer, giving Indiana an 86-85 lead.
Pondexter rushed downcourt and missed a layup, and Catchings rebounded. Then Indiana missed twice in close, but got the offensive rebound. January dribbled the ball out of bounds with 22 seconds left, though, to give Phoenix a final chance.
Pondexter missed a short jumper, and Catchings went for the rebound. She tried to call timeout, but a jump ball was called. Willingham won the jump ball against Catchings, and Phoenix called timeout with 3.4 seconds left to set up Smith's shot.
Phoenix dominated the second quarter and led 47-44 at halftime. Pondexter scored nine points in the quarter by consistently driving into the paint. She also helped the Mercury push the ball up the floor and regain control of the tempo that Indiana had some success slowing in the first quarter.
Indiana tied the game on a free throw by Catchings early in the third quarter, but Willingham scored three straight buckets to give the Mercury a 57-51 lead and force Indiana to call timeout.
Indiana climbed back into the game on the strength of January's shooting. The rookie scored 10 points in the final 1:16 of the third quarter to turn a five-point deficit into a 70-67 lead.
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