NEW YORK (AP) -- Tari Phillips scored 20 points as the New York
Liberty beat the Indiana Fever 72-65 on Monday night to take sole
possession of first place in the Eastern Conference.
Teresa Weatherspoon added 13 points to help the Liberty (13-5)
move a half-game in front of Cleveland, and complete a
home-and-home sweep of the Fever (5-11).
New York, coming off a 58-56 victory in Indianapolis on Sunday
night, improved to 5-0 overall against Indiana. The Liberty, 26-0
when they score 70 or more points since late in the 1999 season,
have won three straight and five in a row at home.
Nadine Malcolm led Indiana with 23 points, and Rita Williams
added 16. The Fever have lost two straight and five of six.
Indiana, down 40-28 at the half, outscored New York 18-6 in the
first eight minutes of the second half to tie it at 46.
The Liberty used a 7-0 run to take a 55-48 lead, but the Fever
rallied to tie it at 63 on Malcolm's three-point play with 2:19
left. Phillips countered with a three-point play of her own seconds
later, and Weatherspoon hit five free throws in the final minute.
After falling behind 11-3, New York scored the next 11 points
and had a 37-17 edge the rest of the half to take the 12-point lead
at the break. Phillips, who had 24 points and 13 rebounds Sunday
night, led the Liberty with 11 first-half points.
Vickie Johnson, one of three Liberty players voted into the
starting lineup for the WNBA All-Star game, sat out the second half
because tightness in her right hamstring.
Johnson, who had three points in 11 minutes, will join Phillips
and Weatherspoon in the Eastern Conference starting lineup next
Monday night in Orlando, Fla.
New York also lost forward Crystal Robinson to a sprained right
ankle early in the second half. She had six points in 22 minutes.
Indiana played without rookie forward Tamika Catchings, expected
to miss the rest of the season because of a right knee injury. The
former Tennessee star, injured in practice Thursday in Houston, had
surgery Monday in Indianapolis.