Indianapolis, IN -- A lot on the line this afternoon for game two of the WNBA Eastern Conference finals. It was win or go home game for the Fever, as the Liberty tried to sweep Indiana and keep their hopes alive for their first-ever WNBA championship title. After being down as much as 18, the Fever came back to beat New York 70-64, forcing a game three.
New York's ability to get the ball inside propelled them to a 10-4 lead early. Tina Charles and Carolyn Swords combined for 13 of the Liberty's 22 points in the first quarter. Shavonte Zellous provided an enormous spark off the bench to help bring Indiana within one with 2:10 left in the quarter, but Bill Laimbeer's crew took a 22-17 lead after the first.
While the "Sit down Bill!" chants from the crowd filled the arena throughout the game, Coach Laimbeer really didn't need a reason to stand in the second quarter. His Liberty jumped out to a 29-19 lead, propelled by Tina Charles. Superman had kryptonite; the Fever have Charles. The UConn standout finished the half with 17 points and six rebounds, giving New York a 44-29 lead at the end of the second quarter.
"I told them New York was playing like they were on a mission, and we're playing like we're ready to go home," said Fever head coach Stephanie White. "And that's all I had to say."
"I took off my shoes at halftime, to start over," said Indiana forward Tamika Catchings.
It appeared that re-lacing the shoes worked for Catchings. Indiana came out in the third quarter on fire. Catchings scored four quick points, allowing the Fever to go on an 8-2 run. Zellous's quarter-ending three gave Indiana all of the momentum, cutting their deficit to 11.
With a "stop, score, stop mentality," the Fever went on a 13-0 run to start off the fourth quarter, cutting it to 55-50 with 6:37 to play. Tamika Catchings scored four straight points off the same move to the hoop, and Marissa Coleman hit a huge three to tie the game up at 55 with 5:50 to go.
Sometimes, you just need a bucket. Or two - Shenise Johnson and Marissa Coleman hit back-to-back three's to give the Fever their first lead of the game, 63-59 with 2:14 to play. A Catchings layup and free throws finished the job for the Fever, beating New York 70-64.
"We stopped doing all of the little things," explained New York forward Tina Charles. "We had 11 assists in the first half; we finished with 15. We stopped moving the ball and doing all of the little things."
Charles finished with 25 points and 10 boards, a double-double for the Liberty. Epiphanny Prince finished with 12, and Kiah Stokes grabbed 11 boards off the bench.
Tamika Catchings finished with 25 points on 11-21 shooting. Marissa Coleman added 10 points, which included two three-pointers. Shavonte Zellous also contributed 10 points off the bench for Indiana.
"I'm really proud of my team and my teammates and the grit," said Catchings. "If we were going out, we were going out with a bang. And now we're going to game three."
"It's about what personality is going to show up. And the personality we showed in the second half will win us some ballgames, and win us some championships," said White.
The Fever head to New York on Tuesday for game three of the conference finals.