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BC-BKL--Fever-Liberty,1st Ld-Writethru

May 25, 2019
AP Basketball Writer

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — Teaira McCowan’s layup at the buzzer lifted the Indiana Fever to an 81-80 win over the New York Liberty on Friday night in the season opener for both teams.

Trailing by one after Tina Charles made two free throws with seven seconds left, Candice Dupree drove the lane and dished it off to McCowan, who laid it in just before the buzzer sounded. The officials did a quick video review confirming the basket counted. Tiffany Mitchell led Indiana with 22 points. Her free throw with 2:16 left in the game gave Indiana a 79-78 lead. Neither team could score until the final seven seconds.

Tina Charles, who had 32 points and 12 rebounds, hit two free throws after she was fouled on a rebound with seven seconds remaining that gave New York a one-point lead.

McCowan, who was the Fever’s first round pick, finished with 11 points.

This was the Liberty’s first regular season game under new owner Joe Tsai. An investment group led by the Brooklyn Nets minority owner bought the Liberty in late January. Tsai, co-founder of the e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, bought a 49 percent interest in the Nets last year. Tsai was in attendance along with new WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert and acting WNBA President Mark Tatum. Engelbert starts officially on July 17 after finishing out her current job as CEO of Deloitte USA next month. The trio met at the half.

Indiana got off to a rough start, missing its first eight shots before Shenise Johnson’s layup nearly 5 minutes into the game. Johnson sat out last year while recovering from an ACL tear suffered in 2017 and then a hamstring injury. Indiana built a 39-33 lead at the half despite 16 points by Charles. The lead grew to 54-42 with 3:19 left in the third before Reshanda Gray and Bria Hartley rallied New York, which scored 18 of the final 20 points to end the period. Gray’s putback with three seconds left capped the run and made it 60-56 for the Liberty.

UP NEXT:

Fever: At Connecticut on Tuesday

Liberty: At Indiana on June 1.

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