August 15, 2005

Indiana 62, Phoenix 56

PHOENIX -- The Indiana Fever finally came through with a late-game rally, and got their franchise-record 17th win.

Natalie Williams had a season-high 15 points and nine rebounds, helping the Fever beat the Phoenix Mercury 62-56 Sunday night.

Indiana (17-12) fell short in a one-point loss to Washington on Aug. 7, and came close in the final minute at Los Angeles on Saturday night before losing 69-59.

Against the Mercury, the Fever ran off nine straight points after falling behind by four and got the lead for good with 3:30 remaining to win its franchise-best sixth road game of the season.

``We lost games right in the last few minutes,'' Williams said. ``But it was really a focus for us tonight to maintain and run our offense and stay poised down the stretch.''

Tamika Catchings added 12 points and eight rebounds for the Fever, who won for the second time in three games and maintained a one-game lead over third-place New York in the Eastern Conference.

``I think we all were really disappointed that we lost to L.A. since we were in a position to win,'' Catchings said. ``Tonight, we were in the same situation, and everybody pushed to not let this one get away.''

Anna DeForge scored a game-high 18 for the Mercury (13-14), who lost for just the third time in 13 games. Three Phoenix starters fouled out in the final 4:37, including leading-scorer Diana Taurasi with 2:20 left.

``I don't think I have ever been involved with a team where three starters have fouled out,'' Mercury coach Carrie Graf said. ``It's going to be hard to win a contest when you are in this type of situation.''

Phoenix was whistled for 27 fouls, and Indiana 19. The Fever took advantage, making 21 of 22 free throws.

``Obviously, Diana Taurasi going out of the game was a big factor,'' Indiana coach Brian Winters said. ``Took a couple of nice charges on her and got her out of the game. That certainly helps when you take probably their best player off their game, their point guard and their decision-maker.''

Williams hit a 15-footer with 3:30 left to give Indiana a 51-50 lead, then grabbed a key offensive rebound with 1:30 left that led to Kelly Schumacher's free throws 16 seconds later.

Kelly Miller hit a 3-pointer and four free throws in the final minute to secure the win.

Maria Stepanova followed a miss to get the Mercury within 58-56 with eight seconds remaining, but Miller and Deanna Jackson hit their free throws for the final margin.

Phoenix is a half-game ahead of Los Angeles for the fourth and final playoff berth in the West.

Indiana, the worst shooting team in the WNBA, overcame a 32-percent effort from the field. The Fever led 30-29 at halftime.

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