Indiana uses stellar defense to beat New York 68-55
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — It would have been easy for the Indiana Fever to not play well after travel issues forced them to get to New York hours before the tip Saturday. Candice Dupree and her teammates wouldn’t let that happen.
Indiana battled back from a 15-point deficit in the first quarter to beat the Liberty 68-55. Dupree finished with a season-high 25 points and Natalie Achonwa added 10 points and 13 rebounds for the Fever (5-23), who held New York without a field goal in the fourth quarter.
The Fever were supposed to fly to New York on Friday afternoon, but their flight was canceled so they flew in Saturday morning instead.
“That grit and never give up attitude defines the Indiana Fever and we’re going to play with that till the very end,” Achonwa said. “Doesn’t matter about our record. I’ve said it all season you can come into our locker room and you wouldn’t know what our record is.”
The win was the second straight for the Fever — the first time they’ve won consecutive games since May, 2017.
New York (7-20) jumped out to a quick 19-4 lead behind hot shooting from behind the arc. The Liberty hit three of their first seven shots from 3. Indiana closed to 35-31 at the half as Dupree had 11 of her points in the second quarter.
The Fever kept it close, getting within one a few times in the third quarter, but couldn’t get the lead until early in the fourth quarter when Tiffany Mitchell made two free throws that gave Indiana a 54-53 advantage. That started the game-ending 16-2 run.
“I credit them to continue getting good defensive stops and not let Tina (Charles) get comfortable,” Indiana coach Pokey Chatman said. “Keep getting me those shots and they will fall. It was a great defensive effort.”
New York was 0 for 15 from the field in the final quarter, marking the eighth time in league history that a team has failed to make a field goal in any period.
Tina Charles scored 11 points to lead New York, which has lost six straight.
“We didn’t have a sense of urgency to want to win the game,” Charles said. “The urgency has to be effort. We can’t control play calls that Katie (Smith) will call. We can run it with efficiency. We can run it hard. We can’t put our heads down after a team hits a shot. That’s the disappointing thing to me.
Fever: Erica Wheeler had 10 points giving her over 1,000 in her career. She’s the first undrafted free agent since 2003 to reach that milestone and have 300 assists. .... Achonwa has five double-doubles this season. She never reached 10 rebounds before this season.
Liberty: The two points that New York scored in the final period equaled the second fewest ever in league history in a fourth quarter. ... Liberty forward Kia Vaughn sprained her ankle early in the third quarter and didn’t return. New York was already missing Epiphanny Prince (knee) and Shavonte Zellous (ankle).
Fever: host Seattle on Tuesday.
Liberty: host Seattle on Monday at Madison Square Garden for a camp day game.