Indiana's Tamika Catchings and Natalie Williams knew what to expect from the playoff-tested New York Liberty.
Catchings finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds and Williams had 13 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Fever to a 58-50 win over the visiting Liberty last night and a sweep of their first-round playoff series.
The Fever advance to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time and will face the winner of the Connecticut-Detroit series, with the best-of-three set to begin on Sept. 8.
Becky Hammon scored 14 points for the Liberty, which eliminated Indiana in three games in 2002, the Fever's only other playoff appearance.
"When they beat us in New York, they were so physical. We were just getting beat up," Catchings said of the Liberty's playoff win three seasons ago. "We knew they were going to beat us up again tonight. We just had to keep attacking, and make them do something different."
Williams said defense made the difference, especially after the Fever missed 20 of 21 shots during the second half.
"What it comes down to is what it has been all year -- defense," Williams said. "We miss 20 or 21 in a row, and our defense saves us."
She said she was not happy with her performance in Game 1, when she had eight points and four rebounds.
"I made sure to come out and do all the little things, play great defense," she said.
The league awarded her for that great defense, naming her defensive player of the year before the game.
"Our Achilles' heel all season has been allowing offensive rebounds, and that came back to bite us tonight," Hammon said of the Fever's 14-4 edge in offensive rebounds.
"We dug ourselves such a hole that we had to exert a lot of energy to try to get back in it," she said. "I think once we made our surge, there was not enough left to finish it up."
The Fever led by 14 points in the first half and withstood a late rally, led by Liberty center La'Keshia Frett, who finished with 13 points.
* COMETS 67, STORM 64: Some key defensive stands and tremendous free throw shooting kept visiting Houston alive in the playoffs.
Rallying from a 10-point second-half deficit, the Comets beat Seattle to even their first round, best-of-three Western Conference playoff series at 1-1. Game 3 is tomorrow night in Seattle.
"It reminded me a lot of Game 1. They got out to an eight-10 point lead, and then we fought back," Houston's Sheryl Swoopes said. "Game 1, we just couldn't get over the hump. . . . [Tonight] everyone was just really determined."
Swoopes scored 20 points, but it was two defensive plays she converted in the final three minutes that gave Houston the lead for good.
With 2 minutes 6 seconds left, Swoopes stole a pass from Seattle's Sue Bird and scored on a layup to give the Comets a 63-62 lead. On the Storm's next possession, Betty Lennox was called for a charge. Swoopes was fouled at the other end, and made both free throws for a 65-62 lead with 1:53 left.
"Our total effort was just so much better -- our focus, our enthusiasm," Houston Coach Van Chancellor said.
Swoopes scored 14 points in the second half. Tina Thompson finished with 13, Janeth Arcain 12 and Michelle Snow 10 for the Comets.