NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Indiana came back from a double-digit deficit in the third quarter against the New York Liberty for the second straight night. This time, they Fever were able to get the win, too.
Tamika Catchings scored 18 points, Katie Douglas had 17 and Indiana scored the last nine points to beat New York 86-80 Saturday night, spoiling the Liberty's opener at Prudential Center - their home for the next three seasons.
``I thought they stole a game from us last night,' Fever coach Lin Dunn said. ``At home we should've won that ballgame. So we were real focused tonight to try to come in here and steal one back from them.'
Rookie Jeanette Pohlen had 14 points, including a key 3-pointer in the final minute, and Briann January added 13 for Indiana (2-1), which trailed by 13 late in the third quarter. Pohlen shot 5 for 7 from the field, including 4 for 4 on 3s.
In just the third game of the season for both teams, Catchings said playoff positioning was a big motivational factor. Last season, the Fever finished one game behind New York and Washington in the Eastern Conference and lost to the Liberty - who had home-court advantage - in three games in the first round.
``We knew we couldn't go down 0-2 against them (in the season series),' Catchings said. ``Especially when it comes down to the crunch time and figuring out who's going to get the No. 1 seed and who's going to get the home-court advantage.'
Essence Carson scored 23 points to lead New York (2-1). Plenette Pierson had 16 points and Cappie Pondexter and Nicole Powell added 13 each.
On Friday night at Indianapolis, the Liberty led by 18 early in the third, and gave up the lead in the final minute of the fourth, and Pondexter's jumper with 8.1 seconds left gave them an 81-80 win.
After giving up another big lead, New York couldn't come back this time.
``We've relaxed in all of our games,' Liberty coach John Whisenant said. ``I'm going to watch this film and give them tomorrow off, see if fatigue maybe was a part of it. We had a hard training camp, we had 17 days without a day off.'
The Fever stormed back from their double-digit deficit with a 15-2 run to tie the score at 72-all. Jessica Davenport's three-point play pulled Indiana within 10 and Douglas' jumper - her only points of the third quarter - cut the deficit to 70-62 in the final minute.
January's three-point play with 8:54 to go in the fourth got the Fever within five. Catchings' 3 made it 72-70 and January tied it with a layup with 6:45 left.
Carson made a jumper 20 seconds later and Pierson had a layup to give New York a 76-72 lead with 6:06 remaining.
The teams played close for the next several minutes until the Fever's game-ending run. Davenport's layup got Indiana to 80-79 with 2:14 left, Catchings made two free throws 38 seconds later to put the Fever ahead, and Pohlen's 3 another minute later made it a four-point game.
January made two free throws with 16.2 seconds remaining to seal the Fever's win.
``It looked like a playoff game to me,' Dunn said. ``We rose to the occasion and never quit battling.'
New York missed its final six shots over the last 2 minutes and Pierson had the ball stolen from her by January on a fastbreak and Pohlen hit her big 3 at the other end.
``At the end, we couldn't score,' Whisenant said. ``We had numerous opportunities.'
The Liberty opened the third quarter with a 13-4 run to take their first double-digit lead of the game. Carson started it with a 3 in the opening minute and had a jumper that put New York ahead 58-47 with 7:11 to go.
Hollingsworth's layup a little more than 3 minutes later made it 66-52, the Liberty's biggest lead of the game.
Carson's layup gave New York a 70-57 with 2:13 to go in the third quarter.
Her 3 started a 14-2 run in the second quarter and she cappped it with a layup that put New York up 49-41 with :37.1 seconds left in the first half.
The Associated Press News Service
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