Rookie Teaira McCowan’s buzzer-beater lifts Indiana over New York, 81-80

Teaira McCowan saves the day for the Fever in her regular season debut

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Rookie center Teaira McCowan went to New York and broke Liberty hearts Friday night at Westchester County Center in White Plains. The Mississippi State product completed a layup in traffic at the buzzer to give her squad an 81-80 victory over the home team.

It was a topsy turvy game with seven lead changes and six ties. In the first quarter, led by forward Tina Charles and guard Kia Nurse, New York had the advantage taking a 19-16 lead into the second period. But the Fever roared back in the second stanza, outscoring their opponent 23-14 with a balanced effort as guard Tiffany Mitchell came off the bench to pour in six points before the break.

At the half, Indiana had a 39-33 lead. That advantage dwindled in the third quarter as Charles, along with forward Reshanda Gray and guard Bria Hartley, scored six points each to help the Liberty go into the fourth quarter with a 60-56 lead.

But alas, for New York, that advantage dwindled and became a distant memory as Mitchell exploded for 10 points in the last ten minutes. Charles broke a tie between the teams with seven seconds left after making two free throws. Next, McCowan entered the game during a timeout with the Liberty leading 80-79.

In the furious last moments, veteran Fever forward Candice Dupree received an inbounds pass at the top of the key and made the decision to deliver the ball to McCowan who was almost entirely under the basket in traffic, yet caught the pass like an experienced pro to finish with an athletic layup.

“That’s the case of a seasoned All-Star trusting a rookie,” Fever head coach Pokey Chatman said. “It was a nice way to win on the road, and even sweeter with the rookie adding the finishing touch.”

The newbie to the league tallied a total of 11 points and six rebounds in her regular season debut. Mitchell led Indiana with 22 points plus five rebounds. Guard Erica Wheeler contributed an impressive stat line of 16 points, six rebounds and five assists. Dupree added 12 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

For the Liberty, Charles led all scorers with a double-double of 32 points and 12 rebounds. Nurse was the only other Liberty player in double figures with 12 points plus four rebounds.

The Fever continue their road trip in Connecticut on Tuesday, May 28. New York has a chance to rest before traveling to Indiana to face the Fever again on June 1.

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