INDIANAPOLIS, IND. – SEPTEMBER 13, 2015 – The New York Liberty fell to the Indiana Fever 81-76 in its regular season finale on Sunday afternoon at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Liberty enter the 2015 WNBA Playoffs as the top overall seed, posting the best regular season record in the league at 23-11.
Moments before the second half of the game was set to begin, the Washington vs. Atlanta game in Washington, D.C. went final, where the Dream came back to pick up a 73-71 win, which cemented the Eastern Conference playoff seeds as a result.
The Liberty will face Washington in a three-game Eastern Conference Semifinal series starting next Friday night, Sept. 18, at Madison Square Garden at 7 p.m.
It will be the first postseason meeting between New York and Washington since the 2002 Eastern Conference Finals, a series the Liberty won 2-1. New York is 4-1 all-time against the Mystics in the postseason.
On Sunday evening against the Fever, New York led by as many as seven in the fourth quarter, its largest lead of the game, only to see Indiana end the game on a 15-6 run over the final five minutes to come back and steal a win.
There were four ties in the final 4:30 of action. After the first two the Liberty had an answer. First it was Swin Cash at the line for two free throws, then an Avery Warley-Talbert layup, but the Fever took its first lead of the period on a pair off Shenise Johnson free throws with 2:13 remaining.
Cash scored again to knot things up one more time, only the Fever would score the final five points of the game, with Natalie Achonwa’s underhanded layup with 1:25 to play serving as the game-winner.
Sugar Rodgers came off the bench to lead New York, scoring 15 points with three makes from 3-point range. Cash and Tina Charles each finished with 11, and Warley-Talbert grabbed a team-high 10 boards with six points.
New York jumped out to a 7-2 lead after Epiphanny Prince connected on a three from the wing, but both team struggled to from the field in the opening period. Indiana was shooting under 20 percent before Maggie Lucas lined up a triple at the buzzer to knot the score at 13-13. New York’s offense was not much sharper, shooting just 27.3 percent, 6-of-22 from the field.
An Erlana Larkins offensive board and put back early in the second quarter gave Indiana its first lead of the game, 15-13, which came as part of a 8-0 run for the Fever from the end of the first quarter into the second.
Both offenses were a little more in rhythm in the second quarter, which ended on a 5-0 Rodgers run that saw the Liberty guard drain a long two at the top of the key then connect on a deep three two possession later to provide New York with a 33-31 lead at the half.
The pace of the third quarter was nothing like the first half, with New York coming out and posting 27 points, the most for the Liberty in the third period of any game this season.
New York shot 7-of-15 from the floor and six different players contributed for the Liberty, but a lot of the damage was done at the line, where after attempting two free throws over the entire first half, New York was 12-for-12 in the third quarter.
After falling behind 52-47, New York ended the quarter on a 13-5 run. Rodgers tied the game with her second 3-pointer of the game, and the Liberty regained the lead thanks to a Warley-Talbert jumper, 56-54
New York Liberty Postgame Notes
- New York finished the regular season with a 23-11 record. It is the first time the Liberty posted the best record in the WNBA and the 23 wins represent a franchise record.
- Swin Cash finished with 11 points to score in double figures for the fourth time this season.
- New York has lost back-to-back games for just the second time this season and the first since June 19, also coincidentally coming with consecutive losses to Washington and Indiana.
- The Liberty scored 27 points in the third quarter, the highest for any third quarter this season.
- Sunday night’s game featured 14 ties and 15 lead changes.