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Fever Beat Rockers, Keep Hopes Alive

August 24, 2003

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ Natalie Williams had 15 points and 11 rebounds, the 61st double-double of her WNBA career, as the Indiana Fever kept their playoff hopes alive by defeating the Cleveland Rockers 59-46 Saturday night.

Tamika Catchings, the league’s third-leading scorer and sixth-leading rebounder, overcame an eye injury to contribute 15 points.

Indiana and Cleveland are tied with New York for the final playoff spot in the tight Eastern Conference, where only Detroit has clinched a playoff spot.

Charlotte is second at 17-15. Connecticut is third at 17-16. Cleveland, Indiana and New York are 16-17. The Liberty play at Charlotte on Sunday, while Indiana hosts Connecticut and Cleveland hosts Charlotte on Monday, the regular season’s final day.

Catchings caught an inadvertent elbow from LaToya Thomas with 4:13 remaining in the first half, suffering a cut to the left eye that required three stitches. Indiana was leading 25-19 when Catchings was hurt, and the Fever was still ahead, 34-26, when she returned wearing a bandage below her eye with 14:30 to play.

The Fever, which kept their playoff hopes alive by beating New York and Cleveland in back-to-back games, took the lead for good at 14-11 on a 3-pointer by Catchings. They built it to 10 before going six minutes without scoring as the Rockers, who had defeated Indiana in three previous games this season, pulled within three.

The Fever responded by scoring the final two points of the first half and the first five points of the second to lead 32-22. The Rockers, who shot just 33 percent from the field, never drew closer than eight points again.

Christy Melvin led Cleveland with 12 points and Thomas scored 11. Kristen Rasmussen scored 11 for Indiana.

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