INDIANAPOLIS—The sellout crowd. The community attention. The freshly accumulated momentum. The coming of age of a collection of WNBA veterans.
The stars and the full moon were aligned Wednesday night in Indianapolis for the Indiana Fever to end Indianapolis' 36 year professional basketball championship drought, up two games to one with Game Four on their home floor and with a raucous Conseco Fieldhouse crowd behind them.
But the Mercury weren't ready to let the sun set just yet, especially their biggest stars.
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Cappie Pondexter scored 22 points while Diana Taurasi scored 16 as the Mercury scored a 90-77 victory over the Fever in Game Four of the WNBA Finals to force a decisive Game Five Friday in Phoenix. Since 2000, Phoenix has not lost an elimination game and now is one win away from their second WNBA Championship.
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Tamika Catchings scored 24 points for Indiana but couldn't stop a strong final 20 minutes from Phoenix, and seemed to have gotten the Fever back into it with a steal and layup that cut the Mercury lead to four with 8:17 to go in the game. But Phoenix put the game out of reach afterwords, going on a 12-2 run over the next five-and-a-half minutes.
Penny Taylor's three pointer with 2:35 left-which was apart of her 17-point night-completed the big run and officially crashed the Fever's hopes for a home championship celebration.
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Early in the game, Phoenix's biggest stars were not intimidated by the crowd or the fired up Fever, as they helped keep the visitors in the lead for most of the first 20 minutes. Penny Taylor scored seven points in the final 59 second of the first quarter to give the the Mercury an 11 point lead. Pondexter, who finished with 12 first half points, opened the second quarter with six of the team's first eight points to pull them out to as much as a 13 point lead.
Tammy Sutton Brown then helped to chip away at the lead there after, scoring seven points in the quarter to help pull the lead to within two at the half.