Fever 103, Dream 88
ATLANTA -- After losing the opener of the Eastern Conference semifinals at home against Atlanta, the Indiana Fever were determined to return the favor.
Tamika Catchings had 25 points and 13 rebounds, Briann January scored 24 points and the Fever beat the Dream 103-88 in Game 2 on Sunday to even the series.
"I can't say enough about Catchings and January," Indiana coach Lin Dunn said. "They just willed this team to come back from the loss Friday night. . Now we're even."
January scored 11 points in the third quarter to help Indiana extend a two-point halftime lead and Catchings had 18 in the fourth -- one short of the WNBA record for a quarter.
The deciding Game 3 will be Tuesday in Indianapolis, where the Dream eliminated the Fever in Game 3 of the East finals a year ago. Indiana, which was 13-4 at home this season, won the previous four postseason games at home before losing the last two.
"It's always good to go home," January said. "It's our home court and we want to protect it. We have given ourselves that opportunity by playing hard this season and getting home-court advantage."
The Fever, who lost the series opener 73-66 on Friday in Indianapolis, outscored Atlanta 31-20 in the third quarter to pull away from a 47-45 lead at the break. Larkins, who got her first career start in the playoffs, had eight points in the quarter to back January.
The Dream scored 10 straight points to cut pull to 82-75 early in the fourth. However, Catchings hit back-to-back 3-pointers and then cut through the defense for a layup as the Fever regained control.
Catchings made five of six shots in the fourth quarter after making just one of her first 11 shots from the floor.
"I credit my teammates for constantly encouraging me," Catching said. "They kept saying, `The next one is going to go in. The next one is going to go in. Don't stop shooting."
Erlana Larkins had 16 points, Shavonte Zellous added 15, Tammy Sutton-Brown 11 and Erin Phillips 10 as the Fever had six players in double figures for the first time this season. Indiana shot 53 percent from the field and had a 36-32 edge on the boards after being out-rebounded in the first game.
"I thought the way we shared the basketball was huge," Dunn said.
Angel McCoughtry scored 22 points to lead Atlanta. Lindsey Harding added 17 and Sancho Lyttle 15.
"Indiana came out firing and some shots they didn't hit in Game 1 they hit in this game," Dream coach Fred Williams said.
Catchings, who had missed her first seven shots, hit a 3 with 1.8 seconds left in second quarter to give Indiana the halftime lead. January and Sutton-Brown each had 11 points at the break.
After starting 1 for 8 and falling behind 14-6, Indiana made six straight shots. But Ketia Swanier banked in a 30-footer at the buzzer to give Atlanta a 24-22 lead at the end of the first quarter.
McCoughtry and Lyttle each scored 11 points in the first half for the Dream, who shot 41 percent.
A total of 50 fouls were called in the game. The Fever finished 28 for 41 while the Dream were 25 for 28.
"Even if we didn't win Game 3 last year we would still have the confidence going in there," McCoughtry said. "We're going to go up there and just play like we did last game and do what we need to do to take this series."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
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