INDIANAPOLIS -- After giving up an 18-point lead, the New York Liberty were just glad to come away with a win.
Cappie Pondexter scored 21 points, including the winning jumper with 8.1 seconds left to give New York an 81-80 victory over the Indiana Fever on Friday night. Plenette Pierson added 13 points for the Liberty (2-0), who led by 18 midway through the third quarter.
Briann January's 3-pointer had given Indiana an 80-79 lead with 23 seconds to go -- the Fever's first advantage since the second quarter.
"I'm proud of the ladies for their fortitude to come back to win by one point," New York coach John Whisenant said. "This is a tough environment to play a good team."
Katie Douglas had 27 points and Tamika Catchings added 13 points and six rebounds for the Fever (1-1). Douglas was 10 for 18 from the field, including a career high-tying six 3-pointers.
After Pondexter put the Liberty back ahead, Catchings missed a jumper at the buzzer.
"We played with more energy (in the fourth quarter)," Douglas said. "But when you have as big of a hole as we had, we didn't have that much energy to win the game."
Erin Phillips scored 11 points and January had 10 for the Fever.
The teams play again Saturday night at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., the Liberty's home for the next three seasons while Madison Square Garden is renovated during the summers.
Quanitra Hollingsworth made two free throws to stretch New York's lead to 65-47 with 5:22 left in the third quarter. The Fever scored the final seven points of the period to pull to 67-59.
Pierson's three-point play in the opening minute of the fourth restored the Liberty's double-digit lead.
However, Jessica Davenport scored six points during a 13-2 run against her former team, including a layup that tied the score at 72-all with 4½ minutes remaining.
Powell had a 3 and Pondexter hit a long jumper to get back up five points.
Douglas' last 3 pulled the Fever to 79-77 with 2:37 to go, and neither team scored for more than 2 minutes until January's 3 put Indiana ahead.
"We did a tremendous job of coming back to take the lead," Indiana coach Lin Dunn said. "It was a great game. A very hard-fought game. Missed free throws hurt us a lot."
The Fever were 13 for 18 from the line.
Douglas' third 3 of the game gave Indiana a 24-22 after one quarter.
Essence Carson scored six points and Pondexter had five as the Liberty went on a 20-4 run to take a 48-35 lead with 2½ minutes to go in the first half.
"It was a game of runs and we made a good run," Powell said. "It came down to the wire. We worked hard to get the win."
Indiana, which finished 9 for 23 from beyond the arc, missed five 3s during that spurt.
"Our identity is on the defensive end," Douglas said. "You are going to have nights where you struggle on offense, but you have to play defense for 40 minutes."