WNBA

Fever-Liberty Preview

New York hopes to benefit from another decisive Game 3 on its home court, but the Indiana Fever may feel as though they have the Liberty right where they want them.

While Tina Charles and New York look to advance to the WNBA Finals for the first time since 2002 on Tuesday night, Tamika Catchings and resilient Indiana try to book their third trip in seven years.

The winner will move on to face West champion Minnesota, which beat Phoenix 72-71 on Sunday.

Following an 84-67 home win in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, the Liberty ran out to a 15-point halftime lead in Game 2, capping what Catchings called Indiana's "worst six quarters of the season."

From there, Catchings took over by scoring 16 of her 25 points in the second half to rally the Fever to a 70-64 home win Sunday. The 36-year-old forward bounced back from a subpar showing after finishing with nine points in the opener.

Catchings has scored 21 or more in four of the five postseason games and is averaging a career-high 20.8 points in the playoffs after scoring a career-low 13.1 during the regular season.

"At halftime, we talked about what this team is made of and what we all have inside of us,'' Catchings said. ''If this was going to be the last game of our season, was this the way we want to go out? Here we are going to Game 3.''

Indiana, playing in its fifth straight conference finals, should be confident with a 7-2 record in its last nine elimination games. The third-seeded Fever trailed in each of the first two rounds en route to the 2012 title. Now they're hoping to follow the same path after rallying past Chicago in the first round.

"It's about our players playing with a refuse-to-lose mentality," coach Stephanie White said.

New York, which is playing in its first conference finals in five years, hopes to finish off the Fever at Madison Square Garden after leading by as many as 18 points in Game 2.

The Liberty took care of business at home in the first round with a 79-74 win over Washington in a decisive Game 3. They've also won three of the past four there against Indiana.

Top-seeded New York will likely continue feeding Charles, who has totaled 43 points, 19 rebounds, 12 assists and three blocks in the series. She's averaging 21.8 points through five playoff games.

Charles scored 17 of her team-high 25 points in the first half Sunday but didn't get much support. Epiphanny Prince finished with 12 in Game 2 after scoring 17 in the opener, while Kiah Stokes was held scoreless after she had 21 on 9-of-11 shooting in Game 1. New York averaged 40.5 bench points in its previous two wins before scoring 10 on Sunday.

The Liberty also shot 38.1 percent and missed 11 of 14 from 3-point range in Game 2 after finishing with a 56.5 field-goal percentage and hitting 8 of 14 from 3 in the opener.

''We stopped doing all the little things,'' Charles said.

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