The Indiana Fever and the Phoenix Mercury came into Wednesday night’s contest looking to bounce back from their opening night losses and notch their first win of the season. Both teams showed up ready to perform in what turned into a fast paced game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. A closely contested first half resulted in a 43-43 stalemate.
Phoenix’s future Hall of Famer, Diana Taurasi, came out with a determined attitude after halftime leading to 10 third quarter points and a five point advantage for the Mercury heading into the fourth quarter. Taurasi appeared to be in midseason form, scoring a game high 32 points on the night to go along with seven rebounds and five assists.
The Fever would return fire with 31 points in the final period, including a 11-0 scoring run midway through the quarter. Indiana regained the lead with under six minutes remaining and held on tight to secure the 97-93 victory despite a late push by Taurasi and the Mercury.
Indiana’s aggressive play yeilded 30 attempts from the free throw line, of which they knocked down 28. A balanced scoring effort made it difficult for Phoenix’s defense to focus on stopping any particular Fever player down the stretch. Indiana set a franchise record with seven players scoring in double figures Wednesday night.
“That’s what they’ve been really good at for a long time, that balanced scoring. And today they did that again with seven players in double figures. I think in the end that kind of took a toll on us,” stated Taurasi after the game.
Tamika Catchings saw limited playing time, but made a strong contribution with 13 points and five boards. Fever All-Star Marissa Coleman made her return to the lineup after an extended season overseas, but forward Devereaux Peters was the player who provided an unexpected scoring punch for Indiana. Peters scored 16 points in her 18 minutes of play.
Backcourt starters Shenise Johnson and Erica Wheeler matched Peters with 16 points apiece, which marks a career high for Wheeler. A key stat for the night was the lack of turnovers Indiana committed, giving up the ball up only 10 times – a vast improvement from the 19 opening night turnovers.
Coach White spoke about the ball control they exhibited after the game. “We want to be disciplined, we want to push with poise and our poise was much better tonight. Our decision making was much better.”
Erlana Larkins had her usual double-double and climbed over the 1,000 career points marker in the process. The Fever bigs held their own against the WNBA’s premiere interior force, holding Brittney Griner to a quiet 14 points.
The Fever will try to keep the momentum flowing when they take on the Atlanta Dream in their third consecutive game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Friday at 7:00 pm.