INDIANAPOLIS — The All-Star duo of Sylvia Fowles and Maya Moore proved to be too much for Indiana, as the Lynx sunk the Fever 87-65 on Wednesday afternoon at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Fowles dominated the interior for the Lynx, as she scored 20 points on 8-10 shooting, while collecting 10 rebounds and dishing out seven assists. She shot 4-4 in the first quarter for eight points, aiding Minnesota in establishing a lead in the first quarter that they never relinquished.
Moore scored 19 points to go along with nine rebounds and four assists. The frontcourt duo of Moore and Fowles was largely responsible for Minnesota’s 36-24 scoring advantage in the paint.
“We wanted to make sure we established some presence early on the defensive end and we didn’t,” said Fever head coach Pokey Chatman. “The heads of their snake, Sylvia and Maya. It’s hard to play catch up in this league, let alone a team that has experience and savvy.”
Minnesota also received big contributions from their reserves, as guard Danielle Robinson poured in 15 points on 6-7 shooting and forward Temi Fagbenle chipped in 10.
Guard Erica Wheeler led the way for Indiana off the bench with 12 points, six rebounds, five assists, and three steals.
“Just defense,” said Wheeler. “I think I got most of my shots because of defense, either turnovers or a steal, just that momentum and being aggressive. So, me being aggressive on defense allows me to be an offensive scorer and attack.”
Guard Kelsey Mitchell had 11 points on 3-5 from beyond the 3-point line, all of which came in the second quarter. Center Natalie Achonwa had 10 points and five rebounds for Indiana.
Both teams got out in transition early and often in the first quarter, as the teams turned the game into a track meet. Minnesota registered eight fast break points in the quarter and Indiana had six of their own.
With the score tied at 2, the Lynx scored the next eight points, all of which came in the paint and gave them an early 10-2 lead. Indiana returned the favor with a 6-0 run of their own out of a time out, as Wheeler drained a jumper just inside the 3-point line and Dupree scored on consecutive possessions.
The Lynx lead the Fever at the end of the quarter, 23-12.
Moore got things going for the Minnesota offense to begin the second, as she led the Lynx to a 15-point lead, 31-16, just minutes into the quarter. From that point, Kelsey Mitchell would get her team back into the game in a flash, as the rookie drained three 3-point field goals and Achonwa made a cutting layup to cap off an 11-0 run, cutting the Minnesota lead to just four, 31-27.
Minnesota outscored Indiana 13-6 to end the half, giving the Lynx a 44-33 lead heading into the break.
“I think we had 10 turn overs in the first half,” says Chatman. “They had 14 points [off turn overs]. We did better in the second half, but that’s not enough. We can’t have that because teams will capitalize.”
The first half of the third quarter was a defensive battle that saw both teams combine for just 11 total points. The Lynx led 53-35 before the offenses began to produce again.
“Our focus needs to be on the defense,” said Achonwa. “The first time we played them, we had a lot of fast break points and easy scoring opportunities because we were defending them. [Today] We were turning over the ball on offense and then also that leads to them to transition for easy points on the board. We’re not getting stops, then we have to slowly bring up the ball, slowly run a play, and that leads to their advantage because they’re a lot bigger than us.”
Wheeler and Erica McCall fueled the Fever offense in the third, as the bench duo combined for 11 of Indiana’s 15 third quarter points. The highlight of the quarter came as Wheeler hit McCall under the basket for the layup and the foul with less than a second on the clock. McCall hit the free throw to complete the 3-point play, but Minnesota still led 61-48 heading into the fourth.
The Lynx kept their foot on the gas in the fourth quarter, as their lead never dropped below 11 points and grew to as many as 22.
“Every game is a battle in itself,” says guard Cappie Pondexter. “This league is tremendously good. It’s just a mindset we have to build consistently. That’s just going out and preparing for each game no matter who the opponent is.”
The Fever are headed to Atlanta for a Friday night matchup against the Dream in what will be their fourth and final meeting this season.
Candice Dupree put up 10 points and pulled down six boards as the Fever took on the Lynx.
Erica Wheeler came off the bench on Wednesday afternoon to lead the Fever in scoring with 12 points and five assists.