INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Tamika Catchings scored 23 points, including the winning free throws with 8.4 seconds left, to give the Indiana Fever an 84-82 victory over the New York Liberty on Tuesday.
Katie Douglas scored 20 points and Shavonte Zellous added 12 as the Fever (10-6) squandered a 12-point lead and trailed by four in the final minutes before rallying.
``We did a good job holding our composure down the stretch,' Catchings said. ``When you look at it there are things that you're happy about and things you aren't happy about. Just continuing our quest to be a good team. We made some great defensive stops.'
Indiana finished 53 percent from the field, including 9 for 18 on 3-pointers.
Cappie Pondexter scored a season-high 33 points and Essence Carson added 14 for the Liberty (6-11), who have lost two straight and six of nine.
``Felt like we could have won the game,' Pondexter said. ``We had a chance. It seems like we battle this team back and forth, playoffs, regular season, for the past three years ever since I've been in New York.'
Trailing 73-70 midway through the fourth quarter, the Liberty scored seven consecutive points to take their biggest lead. Leilani Mitchell made 3 to tie the score, Pondexter hit a technical free throw called on Indiana's Briann January for arguing and then Pondexter made a 3 to put New York up 77-73 with 3 1/2 minutes to go.
Catchings came back with a 3-pointer nearly a minute later and hit another one with 1:53 remaining to give the Fever a 79-77 lead.
Pondexter hit a tying jumper, and Douglas and Pondexter traded 3-pointers 14 seconds apart to leave the score tied at 82 with 35.5 seconds to go.
Indiana passed inbounds with 17.5 seconds left in the game and 6 seconds to go on the shot clock. The ball went all the way to the backcourt, where January tracked it down, hustled upcourt and missed a desperation shot. Catchings rebounded and was fouled. She made both free throws to put Indiana ahead.
``It was kind of a playoff mentality, playoff atmosphere,' Douglas said. ``We have kind of been able to learn from San Antonio to sustain a team's run and maintain our own run and come up with crucial baskets at the end. I'd much rather learn from a win than a loss.'
New York had one last chance, but January stole the ball from Kara Braxton, then Indiana came up with possession after a scramble and ran out the clock.
``It was a hard fought game,' Liberty coach John Whisenant said. ``Indiana's hard to beat at home or anywhere. We got back in and got a lead. They made the play at the end. Our team battled back and didn't get the win.'Indiana led 52-43 at halftime after shooting 61 percent from the field.
New York cut the margin to 66-61 early in the fourth quarter, and Alex Montgomery's 3-pointer made it a 4-point game. A pair of free throws by Nicole Powell cut Indiana's lead to two, and the Liberty tied the game at 70 on a fadeaway by Pondexter.
The Liberty were playing their seventh straight game without second-leading scorer and rebounder Plenette Pierson (strained left knee) and the third in a row without leading rebounder Kia Vaughn (concussion).
The Associated Press News Service
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