Carson, Vaughn lead Liberty past Fever, 83-75
NEWARK, N.J. – Essense Carson scored 18 points, Kia Vaughn had 15 points and nine rebounds, and the New York Liberty beat the first-place Indiana Fever 83-75 Friday night.
Nicole Powell added 13 points, and Plenette Pierson and Cappie Pondexter had 12 apiece to help the Liberty (19-14) pull into a tie with Atlanta for third place in the Eastern Conference with one game remaining. New York visits second-place Connecticut on Sunday, while the Dream visit Indiana.
Katie Douglas scored 17 points and Shannon Bobbitt had a career-high 16 points for the Fever (21-12), who had already secured the No. 1 seed in the East.
Trailing by 13 with 5½ minutes to go, Indiana scored seven consecutive points to pull to 75-69 with 3:13 remaining. Bobbitt made her fourth 3-pointer of the second half to start the run, and Jessica Davenport and Douglas had layups.
However, Leilani Mitchell and Powell made 3s about 50 seconds apart to seal the Liberty's win.
Powell made consecutive jumpers and Pierson made two free throws to push New York's lead to 71-57 with 7:06 remaining
Shavonte Zellous followed with a 3 and Bobbitt had a layup to get Indiana within single digits again 27 seconds later. However, Kara Braxton hit a jumper and Pierson made two free throws to put the Liberty ahead 75-62 with 5:28 left, before the Fever made another run.
After Bobbitt's 3 in the opening minute of the third quarter pulled Indiana within nine, the Liberty scored the next eight points to take a 55-38 lead on Vaughn's free throws with 6:44 to go in the period.
Jeanette Pohlen, Douglas and Bobbitt made consecutive 3s to get Indiana within eight less than 2 minutes later.
Pierson followed with a layup for New York, and Bobbitt hit her third 3 of the period and Douglas made 1 of 2 from the line to pull the Fever to 57-51 with 3:54 left.
Catchings then made three free throws, including a technical on Liberty coach John Whisenant, to get Indiana within five 36 seconds later. However, the Liberty closed the third quarter with a 6-1 run, including Carson's buzzer-beater from inside the 3-point line, to extend the lead back to double digits at 65-55.
Neither team made a field goal for the first 2½ minutes of the second quarter. Alex Montgomery made 1 of 2 free throws with under 8 minutes to go, and Mitchell hit a 3 to give the Liberty a 33-21 lead with 7½ minutes to go.
The teams played close the rest of the period, with Indiana cutting the deficit to eight points three times. Braxton's layup beat the halftime buzzer to give New York a 47-35 lead at the break.
Carson led the Liberty with 12 points. Douglas and Tangela Smith had nine each for the Fever. New York shot 51 percent (18 for 35) in the half, while Indiana was at 45 percent (14 for 31).