Fever Rallies, Breaks Liberty 76-69

Friday, July 11th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Tamika Catchings spent the first half warming up. She spent the second half keeping the Indiana Fever perfect at home.

Catchings hit a 15-footer from the left baseline to give Indiana the lead with 45 seconds left, and finished with a season-high 31 points as the Fever beat New York 76-69 on Thursday night for their 13th straight home win.

``It was about just waking up,'' Catchings said. ``We just stuck together.''

Indiana (10-7), the WNBA's only unbeaten team at home, looked anything but perfect against the Liberty (7-7).

The Fever fell into an early 18-point deficit and produced their smallest victory margin at Conseco Fieldhouse this season. The comeback was the second biggest in franchise history behind a 19-point rally against Phoenix on July 1, 2001.

Catchings got the Fever out of an early funk by hitting consecutive 3-pointers after New York had taken a 22-4 lead.

She scored 11 straight points in a 4:41 stretch when Indiana and New York were trading baskets late, and gave Indiana the lead for good with her 15-footer in the final minute. Catchings finished one point short of her career high.

Catchings also shut down Liberty guard Vickie Johnson after she scored 14 points in the first 7:12. Johnson finished with 22 points, and Elena Baranova added 12 points and 12 rebounds.

In other games, it was Sacramento 89, San Antonio 76; Cleveland 68, Phoenix 67; Charlotte 65, Detroit 58; and Minnesota 83, Connecticut 75.

With Catchings in first-half foul trouble, the Fever looked ordinary. The second half was dramatically different.

Catchings gave the Fever their first lead with 12:45 left. She kept the Fever close the rest of the way and won it in the final minute by spinning away from a defender and hitting the 15-footer.

New York had a chance to retake the lead, but Baranova missed a shot from the top of the key.

Indiana's 13 straight home wins is the third-longest streak in WNBA history.

New York played without All-Star center Tari Phillips, who had a family emergency in Florida. A team spokesman said Phillips is expected back for the All-Star game.

Monarchs 89, Silver Stars 76

At Sacramento, Calif., Yolanda Griffith had 18 points and 10 rebounds as the Monarchs gave coach John Whisenant his first victory. Whisenant, the team's assistant general manager, replaced Maura McHugh, who was fired Tuesday night.

LaQuanda Quick had six 3-pointers and finished with a career-high 22 points for San Antonio.

Lynx 83, Sun 75

At Minneapolis, Katie Smith scored 34 points, the most in the WNBA this season, and Minnesota shot 54 percent from the field.

Smith made two free throws midway through the second half to reach the 4,000-point mark as a professional. Smith, who played three seasons in the ABL with Colorado, has 4,013 career points.

Rockers 68, Mercury 67

At Phoenix, LaToya Thomas hit a short jumper with 3.2 seconds to play for the win. Thomas finished with 20 points.

Anna DeForge had 15 points for the Mercury.

Sting 65, Shock 58

At Charlotte, N.C., Tammy Sutton-Brown scored 17 points and Andrea Stinson added 14 before leaving with a hip injury. The Sting won their fourth straight and moved into first place in the Eastern Conference, one-half game ahead of the Shock.

Cheryl Ford, the daughter of NBA star Karl Malone, scored a career-high 20 points for the Shock.