If both teams were looking to find momentum heading into the postseason, they weren't finding it in the first half at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. With each team off to a slow start, an uneventful first quarter ended in a 13-13 tie. This was one of three ties in the first half which also boasted eight different lead changes.
Indiana's top scorer, Tamika Catchings, started for the Fever (19-14) after sitting out in Friday's 75-67 victory at Atlanta. Shooting just 26 percent in the first half, Indiana's struggles resulted in six turnovers while New York racked up five turnovers themselves.
Star forward Tina Charles led the Liberty with 11 points in the first half accompanied by two crucial blocks. Sugar Rodgers hit a three-point shot for New York with 18 seconds remaining in the half to secure a small two point lead before heading into the locker room.
While the Liberty (23-10) had already secured home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, a Mystic loss to Atlanta Sunday landed Indiana with a No. 3 seed and Chicago as their first opponent in the post season. With nothing on the line, starters like Charles saw very few minutes in the second half.
With each teams' depth on full display, the third quarter was the highest scoring of the night. A well-balanced offense with 10 different players contributing points throughout the game helped New York put up 27 points and extended their lead to three.
In a battle of the benches, Shavonte Zellous would rise above to change the course of the game in the final minutes. Zellous hit a three-pointer to tie the Liberty at 70-70 with just four minutes remaining. As the Fever rallied around her, Zellous scored a season-high 22 points, 18 of which came in the second half.
An impressive 50-point half gave Indiana an 81-76 victory and their 20th win of the season. This was the Fever's fourth win this year against the East's top team.
Zellous' stellar performance was accompanied by 13 points and five rebounds from center Natalie Achonwa as well as 13 points from Briann January.
Rodgers had 15 points off the bench for the Liberty, while Charles and Swin Cash added 11 points each. In preparation for the playoffs, New York's starters each saw less than 20 minutes of playing time.
Notably, the frustrated Liberty had 25 personal fouls in their loss, while the Fever accumulated just 16. As a team, Indiana was 26 of 30 from the free throw line to help their fourth quarter push.
With this win, coach Stephanie White became just the third coach to reach 20 wins in a rookie season. More importantly it gave her team the momentum she was looking for heading into the playoffs this week.