Fever, Storm open WNBA playoffs with victories

Posted: Wednesday, August 31, 2005

NEW YORK — Tamika Catchings had 19 points and 12 rebounds, and Tully Bevilaqua added 14 points to lead the Indiana Fever over the New York Liberty 63-51 Tuesday night in the opener of their first-round WNBA playoff series.

Deanna Jackson had nine points, including a pair of tiebreaking free throws with 2:59 remaining as Indiana closed the game with a 14-2 surge after the Liberty came back from a 10-point deficit.

Game 2 in the best-of-three series is Thursday night at Indianapolis.

Vickie Johnson had 17 points and Becky Hammon nine for the Liberty. Elena Baranova added seven points and seven rebounds.

The Liberty took a 29-27 lead on Johnson's driving layup 15 seconds into the second half.

Jurgita Streimikyte made a layup and hit a jumper to start a 16-4 spurt over the next eight minutes and give the Fever a game-high 10-point lead.

New York then started climbing back. Erin Thorn made a layup and Cathrine Kraayeveld hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 43-38 with 9:02 left.

After Kraayeveld hit two free throws to make it 45-40 with 7:42 remaining, Catchings missed a 3 and two free throws on consecutive possessions. Johnson's three-point play cut the lead to two with 6:10 left.

Catchings' jumper pushed the Fever's advantage to 49-44 nearly two minutes later. But Crystal Robinson made both shots from the line, and Baranova hit a tying 3 with 3:21 left.

Indiana hit 11 of 12 free throws in the final three minutes to take the game.

Storm 75, Comets 67

HOUSTON — Lauren Jackson had 19 points and 13 rebounds to lead Seattle in the opener of its series with the Comets.

Nursing a sore back, Jackson made six of 13 shots and helped the defending champions take a 1-0 lead back to Seattle for Thursday's Game 2 in the best-of-three series.

The Storm blew an 11-point lead in the second half, but recovered in time to stop the Comets, who are looking for their first playoff series victory since 2000.

Betty Lennox added 18 points, making nine of 10 free throws.

Michelle Snow scored 15 of her 21 points in the second half to give the Comets a 50-48 lead with 9:21 left. But the Storm used a 12-3 spurt to take control of the game and never trailed again.

Sheryl Swoopes added 15 points for the Comets.

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