INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana star Tamika Catchings had seen enough. The Fever had played what she described as their worst six quarters of the season.
Trailing by 15 points at halftime in Game 2 of the WNBA Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday and down 1-0 in the series, the Fever were in desperation mode against the New York Liberty.
After first-year Fever coach Stephanie White delivered one of her shortest halftime speeches of the season, Catchings scored 16 of her 25 points in the second period to rally Indiana to a 70-64 win over the Liberty and tie the best-of-three series.
“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.”
For the Fever, it was the seventh win in the last nine elimination games. Shenise Johnson finished with 12 points and Shavonte Zellous and Marissa Coleman added 10 for Indiana.
New York’s Tina Charles led all scorers with 25 points – including 17 in the first half – and had 10 rebounds. Epiphany Prince added 12 points for the Liberty, who led 44-29 at halftime.
The decisive Game 3 will be played Tuesday night in New York. The winner will face Minnesota, which beat defending champion Phoenix 72-21 on Sunday, in the WNBA Finals.
Top-seeded New York seemed in control through three quarters. Indiana twice pulled within nine points after trailing by as many as 18. Essence Carson’s 3-pointer with 53 seconds left in the third pushed New York’s lead to 14.
After Charles made a jumper to give the Liberty a 55-42 advantage early in the fourth quarter, Catchings and the Fever went to work on a 13-0 run. The 36-year-old Catchings has six points and two assists in the spurt.
Indiana tied the game at 55-55 with 5:50 left when Catchings assisted Coleman on a 3-pointer on the wing. Shenise Johnson gave the Fever their first lead at 60-59 on a 3-pointer and Coleman added another 3 for a four-point lead, capping a 21-4 run.
Trailing 67-64 with 15 second left, New York’s Tanisha Wright was called for a charge and coach Bill Laimbeer received a technical protesting the call. The Fever made three free throws in the final 10 seconds.
White said the comeback wouldn’t have been possible without Catchings leading the way.
“New York was playing like they were on a mission and we were playing like we were content to go home,” White said. “That was all I had to say.”
The Liberty capitalized on nine Indiana first-half turnovers and turned them into 17 points. But New York wilted down the stretch.
“We stopped doing all the little things,” Charles said.