Indiana Fever's Tamika Catchings fell one rebound shy of the first triple-double in WNBA finals history as the Fever beat the Phoenix Mercury 93-84 to square the best-of-five series 1-1.
|Tamika Catchings lays up a shot past a determined Diana Taurasi [GALLO/GETTY]
Catchings had 19 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds to help the Fever steal home court advantage in the series with the next two games in Indianapolis, beginning with Game 3 on Sunday.
The WNBA defensive player of the year for the third time, Catchings also harassed Mercury's league MVP Diana Taurasi into 7-for-22 shooting. Taurasi finished with 20 points.
"Series can swing either way really quick,'' Taurasi said, "and it's swung in their favour pretty quick now."
Catchings was not about to boast of getting the best of Taurasi.
"Do not underestimate Diana Taurasi ever,'' Catchings said.
"For my job, it's to play defence on D.T. (Taurasi). I give her props, and it's a hard job. ... She is going to look at both these tapes and be ready for Game 3.''
There has not been a triple-double in any WNBA game since 2005 and it has happened only once in the playoffs.
When Catchings, runner-up to Taurasi in the MVP voting, needed only two rebounds in the final six-plus minutes, it looked as if she would get there. But her ninth didn't come until there was just 28 seconds to play.
The cold-shooting Mercury were without Australian Penny Taylor most of the second half.
Taylor, who scored all 14 of her points in the first half, took an elbow from Indiana rookie Briann January and left with a cut lip with 3:33 to play in the third quarter.
"I haven't talked to the doctors so I don't know exactly what's wrong, so I don't want to say something I don't know for sure,'' Phoenix coach Corey Gaines said.
"I know for sure she'll play next game. I know Penny Taylor, she'll play the next game, for sure, 100 percent.''
Taurasi missed eight of her 10 attempts at 3-pointers and teammate Cappie Pondexter missed all four of hers.
The Mercury struggled on offence two nights after a 120-116 overtime victory in Game 1, the highest-scoring contest in WNBA history.
Phoenix shot 39.7 percent for the game and were just 5 of 20 in the third quarter, when the Fever built a 17-point lead.
Catchings led six Indiana players in double figures. Rookie Briann January and Ebony Hoffman added 16 points. Tammy Sutton-Brown and Katie Douglas each scored 14, and Jessica Davenport added 10.
Temeka Johnson had 14 for Phoenix. Pondexter and Tangela Smith had 12.
The Fever, in their first WNBA finals, took control with a 12-2 run, making it 71-55 after Catchings made two free throws with 2½ minutes left in the third quarter. Davenport scored the first five points of the run.
Indiana's biggest lead was 77-60 with 5.6 seconds left in the third.
Johnson's 3-pointer at the buzzer made it 77-63 entering the fourth.
A late 14-5 run cut the Fever's lead to 85-80 on Taurasi's layup with 1:23 to play. But Sutton-Brown responded with a basket inside, then January and Douglas put the game away with free throws.