Catchings leads Fever past LibertyAug 30, 2010 - 3:49 AM By CLIFF BRUNT AP Sports Writer
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- After picking up some individual awards earlier in the day, Tamika Catchings led the Indiana Fever to a big win.
Catchings started the day by being selected the WNBA's defensive player of the year and earning the league's sportsmanship award, and then was picked for the all-defensive team.
She ended it with a 17-point, 13-rebound effort to help the Fever beat the New York Liberty 75-67 on Sunday night to tie their best-of-three Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Catchings had her 14th double-double in 30 career playoff games to help the Fever fight off elimination and earn one more chance to defend their Eastern Conference crown. Game 3 is Wednesday at New York, with the winner advancing to face Atlanta in the conference finals.
Indiana had lost four straight, but the Fever opened Sunday's game with one of the best defensive quarters in their postseason history, holding the Liberty to 3-for-15 shooting while building a 21-8 lead.
Indiana tied its record for fewest points allowed in a quarter in a playoff game.
"We know we're capable of winning games," Catchings said. "We know as a team how good of a team we are. We're a great team. We clean up some things, we'll be OK."
Indiana trailed Detroit 1-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals last year, but recovered to win 2-1 and advance to the Finals for the first time.
"We were in this situation last year, of having our backs against the wall," Catchings said. "What are you going to do about it?"
Until last year, the team with home-court opened on the road and had Games 2 and 3 at home. This year, the league changed to a 1-1-1 format with the higher seeded team getting Games 1 and 3 at home.
New York outrebounded Indiana 39-25 in Game 1 on Thursday, but Indiana won that battle 41-36 on Sunday.
"We watched the tapes yesterday, and we came back and really watched and saw all the things we needed to do," Catchings said. "I think tonight, the biggest focus for us was rebounding. For the most part, we did a great job."
New York had won 12 of its previous 13 games, but the Fever held the Liberty to 37 percent shooting. Essence Carson scored 24 points and Cappie Pondexter had 20 for the Liberty, but they were the only New York players to score in double figures. The Liberty starters shot a combined 12 for 42 from the field.
"We could not put the ball in the hole," Liberty coach Anne Donovan said. "We had poor offense."
Indiana's Katie Douglas sprained her ankle in the regular-season finale and was scoreless in 27 minutes in Game 1 against New York. She was much more active in Game 2 and had 11 points and five assists.
"I don't know how much more worse it could have got for me the other night," Douglas said. "Just being passive and just kind of being in a fog on Thursday is definitely something that I wanted to fix, that mentality."
Tammy Sutton-Brown scored 14 points and former Liberty player Jessica Davenport had 10 points and eight rebounds for the Fever.
Carson scored 10 of her 12 first-half points in the second quarter to give New York's offense a boost, but Indiana still led 39-27 at the break.
The Fever opened the second half with a 9-0 run to break the game open. A long 2-point jumper by Douglas gave Indiana a 48-27 lead and led to a New York timeout. New York didn't score for nearly 3 1/2 minutes to start the quarter, and Indiana led 64-46 at the end of the period.
New York outscored Indiana 21-11 in the fourth quarter, but that meant little to the Liberty. Carson said she knows what her team needs to do to advance.
"Be aggressive and lock it down on defense," she said. "Basic fundamentals."
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