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Fever snap 5-game winning streak of 1st-place Liberty

The streaking New York Liberty had their five-game winning streak come to an end, as the Indiana Fever, behind the play of Shenise Johnson, beat the Liberty 84-72.

Photo by Indiana Fever/Frank McGrath

The Indiana Fever returned home Wednesday night to face the 12-5 New York Liberty. The Fever were coming off of a close 75-73 road victory over the Connecticut Sun the previous evening, where star forward Tamika Catchings made a game-winning field goal with six seconds left in the game.

This was New York's first game since the All-Star break and needless to say they were a bit rusty.

The first quarter was scrappy, starting off with a steal by New York guard Tanisha Wright, who could not convert on the other end, and a foul by her teammate Carolyn Swords which sent Catchings to the line gaining the first points of the game.

Fever center Natalie Achonwa set the tone for the rest of the quarter as she followed up Catchings free throws with a 3-0 run of her own. Shavonte Zellous -who has been great off the bench all season for Indiana- entered the game shortly after and scored on her first possession.

Although Indiana was scoring and -for the time being- keeping New York center Tina Charles at bay, with most of her first quarter points coming from the free-throw line; they were simultaneously turning the ball over. This prevented them from keeping any substantial lead over New York, going into the second quarter only up by three at 24-21.

Turnovers and fouls would be the running theme of the game which impacted the momentum more than anything, seeing as how both teams were equally scoring - or not scoring- in transition.

Again to start off the second quarter each team turned over the ball, resulting in four points for the Fever and zero for the Liberty. New York's head coach Bill Laimbeer called an early timeout.

Wright, who finished the night with 13 points scored first out of the huddle for New York, which was answered quickly by Catchings with a 13-foot jumper.

New York center Kia Stokes fouled Catchings twice shortly after; resulting in two made free throws, allowing Indiana to sustain their slim lead at 34-28.

The second quarter remained close, with New York outscoring Indiana 18-16. However, Indiana remained on top, going into the half up 40-39.

Briann January and Shenise Johnson scored early on in the third quarter to help Indiana regain the lead over New York, who scored first; including a 15-foot jumper by Johnson to put them up 52-49. New York responded with two shots of their own, and Indiana went into a full timeout.

After the timeout, Indiana seemed to get it together scoring first, while Zellous and Catchings would make all of their free throws to finish out the quarter leading the Liberty 63-59.

Indiana kept up the momentum in the fourth quarter continuing with a 12-2 run, lead by Johnson who finished the night as Indiana's leading scorer with 19 points and 8 rebounds, and January who finished the night with 12 points, and 8 assists.

Fever Guard Maggie Lucas hit a momentous three-pointer to put the Fever up 73-59. In response finally, about five minutes into the quarter New York scored their first points, which kicked off a 9-1 run, and again they were in it by five at 68-73.

While New York responded well offensively, it was off the glass where they were having trouble. As the number one rebounding team in the league, they were outrebounded by ninth rebounding team Indiana 32-27.

New York's run was short lived as they also had no answer for Johnson and January, who were just too clutch for a Liberty team that had not played in seven days.

Johnson made a jumper assisted by January, as the duo made 6-6 free throws to give the Fever an 83-72 lead. Teammate Erlana Larkins would score last in the game with one free throw of her own.

Both teams play again on Sunday at home.