INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Fever started strong but fell short to the league-leading Minnesota Lynx 80-69 at home inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Wednesday night. The win took Minnesota one step closer to securing the No. 1 overall playoff seed. Indiana has already been eliminated from playoff contention, but an injury-riddled Fever squad stayed competitive on Wednesday night.
“The main goal was to come out aggressive, execute things and really put pressure on their defense,” Erica Wheeler said. “I think we did that early on. We’re not going to back down just because we’re down numbers. I think that’s Indiana basketball.”
Wheeler led the way for Indiana for the second-straight game with 17 points and seven assists. Candice Dupree notched her third double-double of the season with 15 points and 10 rebounds while Marissa Coleman and Jeanette Pohlen-Mavunga added seven apiece.
Maya Moore led all scorers with 18 points on 6-for-11 shooting. Sylvia Fowles added a double-double with 12 points and 13 boards while Seimone Augustus tallied 14 points, as well.
Wheeler started right where she left off after a 23-point game against Atlanta on Saturday. She opened the game with nine of her 17 points in the first quarter, including 4-for-5 from the floor and three assists. Indiana started 8-for-8 from the field to open a 21-15 edge in the first 4:40. They also went 3-for-3 from deep before finally cooling off.
After scoring 27 first-quarter points, Indiana notched just 11 in the second period, making way for a 42-38 halftime lead for the Lynx.
An 8-2 Indiana run sparked the third quarter scoring and regained control for the Fever, but Minnesota scrambled back to a two-point advantage heading into the fourth.
It was a 14-2 run from Minnesota in the final stanza’s early minutes that pushed the Lynx lead to 74-61 with 4:20 to play. Indiana only scored eight points in the fourth quarter.
“We battled physically and mentally, executing on both sides of the basketball,” Fever head coach Pokey Chatman said. “We handled some adversity. They made runs and big shots, but we never got rattled. Obviously, they’re the best team in the league, but I’m proud of some of the things we did.”
The loss was Indiana’s seventh straight as they fall to 9-24 on the season. Minnesota improves to 25-7 atop the WNBA standings. The Fever will be in action again on Saturday, Sept. 2 as they host San Antonio in the regular season finale.