7:00 PM ET, July 12, 2007
A four-game winning streak has helped the Indiana Fever to the top of the Eastern Conference standings. Another victory, though, will bring them to a franchise milestone.The Fever seek their first five-game winning streak in team history as they host the New York Liberty on Thursday in the final meeting between the teams.Indiana (14-4) has won four in a row for the third time this year, but has yet to establish a five-game win streak in a single season. The Fever did win five regular-season games bridging 2005 and 2006.All-Star forward Tamika Catchings has keyed Indiana's recent surge, averaging 17.5 points during the win streak. The sixth-year pro scored 23 points to lead Indiana to a 79-77 victory against the Comets on Tuesday for the team's first-ever victory in Houston."We came out a little sluggish in the first half," said Catchings, whose team trailed by seven at halftime. "We talked at halftime about getting our energy up, offensively and defensively. I thought we played with a lot of poise down the stretch."Tammy Sutton-Brown added 20 points, while Tamika Whitmore had 13 for the Fever, who held the Comets to just 10 fourth-quarter points.Indiana, which is 7-2 both at home and on the road, has the best record in the WNBA and looks to stay atop the East as it heads into the All-Star break."I have a good team, good veteran players and a lot of depth," Fever coach Brian Winters said. "They've done a good job all year long, and when we've needed a big play in crucial situations, we've had different people step forward."Catchings has been one such player, leading the team in points (16.9) and rebounds (8.8). She's played well against the Liberty this season, averaging 17.7 points in three games. Catchings had 18 in a 74-63 win at New York (10-8) on June 24 in the teams' most recent meeting.Indiana has won two of three meetings with New York this season, and is 15-12 all-time against its conference opponent. The Fever also have won eight straight over the Liberty at home since a loss on July 19, 2002, and are 9-4 against them at Conseco Fieldhouse.The Liberty, though, have won three of their last four games, including two straight against a pair of the league's top teams. New York defeated Detroit 82-81 in overtime on Friday and then recorded a 71-61 home win over Sacramento on Sunday.Cathrine Kraayeveld and Erin Thorn each scored 13 points as the Liberty won consecutive games for the first time since opening the season 5-0.Loree Moore added 12 points, while Shameka Christon had 10 for the Liberty, who shot 48.1 percent (25-for-52) from the field. It was their best shooting percentage from the field since converting 61.5 percent against Indiana in a 78-67 home win on June 5.The Liberty are averaging a league-low 70.2 points, and will face a Fever team that leads the WNBA in scoring defense at 68.8 points per game.