Tamika Catchings ripped the ball out of the air after Detroit’s final miss and Indiana’s players jumped into each other’s arms. Finally, the Fever will play for a championship.
The Fever advanced to the WNBA finals for the first time, beating the defending champion Shock, 72-67, last night in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals in Indianapolis.
“Finally!’’ Catchings said. “I’ve been waiting for this for eight years. I don’t want to get too excited. I want to finish it off.’’
The Fever, who were eliminated by the Shock the last three seasons, open the finals Tuesday against Phoenix. The Mercury completed the pairing by beating visiting Los Angeles in the late game, 85-74.
The Fever and their Conseco Fieldhouse crowd, listed at 18,165 after Pacers president Larry Bird bought the entire balcony and gave the tickets away, roared at the finish.
Tammy Sutton-Brown led the Fever with 17 points. Katie Douglas scored 14, and Ebony Hoffman and Catchings added 10 apiece. Catchings also had eight rebounds, five assists, and three steals.
Deanna Nolan had 16 points for Detroit. Alexis Hornbuckle scored 15.
The Mercury advanced behind 21 points and seven rebounds by Diana Taurasi. Lisa Leslie, who plans to retire after the season, had a game-high 22 points and nine rebounds for LA.