INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The New York Liberty got off to a fast start, and Nicole Powell put together an impressive stretch at the end.
Powell scored a season-high 20 points and New York beat Indiana 82-72 on Tuesday night for its fourth straight win.
Indiana, which recently led the East, now is tied with Washington for second and sits just one game ahead of fourth-place New York.
Powell went 6-for-7 from 3-point range, including 4-for-5 in the second half. Cappie Pondexter scored 19 points and Janel McCarville had 11 points and 10 rebounds for New York.
``We're a great offensive team,' Pondexter said. ``Our starting five are capable of putting up big numbers. We're starting to get our momentum going right now and you're seeing different players step up.'
Pondexter said her team expected the Fever to begin the game with more intensity, playing on their home court.
``From the beginning I don't think they expected us to be as intense as we was defensively,' she said.
Tamika Catchings scored 19 points and Briann January added 10 for the Fever. Catchings became the second player in league history to collect 700 career steals and the first to record 2,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists, but her teammates struggled.
``I am concerned we are not playing harder,' Indiana coach Lin Dunn said. ``We need to go back to the drawing board and change the lineup. Our sense of urgency was not there. We are going to play the players who play hard. We are digging ourselves in a hole.'
Indiana, which trailed by 14 in the second quarter, pulled within four in the final period before Powell connected from long range on back-to-back possessions to push the lead to 10. The Liberty controlled the game from there.
The Liberty outrebounded the Fever 38-28 and held them to 39 percent shooting. New York, the most efficient 3-point shooting team in the league, made 12-of-18 from long range against the top defensive team in the WNBA.
New York won for the first time in three meetings with the Fever this season.
The game became increasingly intense during the second half.
January was called for a foul early in the fourth quarter after she tried to remove the ball from Pondexter's possession after a whistle. Pondexter instinctively swung her arm in January's direction, and January said after the game that Pondexter made contact. Both were assessed technicals.
Pondexter didn't think much of the situation, even though it happened with WNBA commissioner Donna Orender on hand.
``We got double techs,' she said. ``That's it. It's two competitors, you know what I mean? It's what happens.'
New York shot 54 percent to take a 40-29 halftime lead. Indiana's All-Star combination of Catchings and Katie Douglas combined for four points on 0-for-6 shooting before the break.
Catchings converted two three-point plays early in the third to help the Fever trim New York's lead to 49-47, but Indiana never took the lead.
``In the third quarter we used an extreme amount of energy to get into the ballgame,' Douglas said. ``You could feel the momentum trying to shift, but, again, they were able to capitalize. I think we might have used too much energy in the third quarter. That's going to happen when you fight for your lives and try to come from behind.'
Catchings said the Fever, the reigning Eastern Conference champions, should expect opponents to play their best.
``Everybody has been gunning for us,' she said. ``Instead of taking more pride and stepping up our game, it's just like we have kind of coasted a little bit. I honestly don't know what it is. We need everybody looking in the mirror and seeing what we can bring to the table.'
The Associated Press News Service
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