INDIANAPOLIS – Tamika Catchings tied a career high with 32 points, surpassing 5,000 for her career, and the Indiana Fever beat the New York Liberty 82-71 on Saturday night.
Catchings became just the sixth player to reach 5,000 points when she made a jumper from near the free throw line late in the first quarter. Catchings also set a franchise record by making 17 free throws. She already became the league's career leader in steals earlier this season.
Tangela Smith added 10 points for the Fever (17-7), who have won seven of their past eight games. All but one of the wins have been by double digits.
Cappie Pondexter scored 30 points and Essence Carson added 16 for New York (13-11), which has lost three of four.
New York committed 23 turnovers that led to 25 points for Indiana.
Indiana, which leads the league with 11 home wins, outscored New York 25-12 from the free throw line.
Indiana led 38-32 at halftime, then started the second half strong. A steal and layup by Catchings gave Indiana a 45-34 lead and forced New York to call timeout just 80 seconds into the third quarter.
The timeout didn't slow Indiana's momentum. The Fever scored the next seven points, including a 3-pointer by Katie Douglas. The Fever led 64-47 at the end of the third quarter.
New York tried to rally late. A layup by Carson cut Indiana's lead to 71-59 with just under 5 minutes to play, but New York couldn't trim its deficit to single digits.