ROSEMONT, Ill. — Tiffany Mitchell and Candice Dupree combined for 37 points, 30 in the second half, to lead the Indiana Fever to a 91-79 victory over the Chicago Sky, Sunday at Allstate Arena.
Mitchell scored 14 of her 19 points in the second half and Dupree, who was just 1-of-12 shooting in the opening half, finished 8-of-22 overall with 18 points. Dupree shot 7-of-10 in the final 20 minutes.
The Fever overcame a 10-point deficit early in the third quarter to win their first road game of the season and send the Sky to their fifth straight home loss, and seventh loss in the past eight games overall. The Fever evened their record at 6-6 (.500) and won their second straight game by a double-digit margin. Perhaps most important, they gift-wrapped a birthday present for their coach.
In her first season with the Fever, Pokey Chatman celebrated her 48th birthday with a win on the floor on which she spent the past six seasons as head coach and general manager of the Sky.
“My mother told me long ago red looks good on me,” she said with a grin, referring to the color of her new team and a matching blouse. “It felt good to get that win here, I’m not gonna lie. But it was how we did it that was really special.”
Of the Fever’s 10-point deficit early in the third, she said, “I liked the shots we were getting. I felt ok when we were down. It was when we picked up the defensive intensity that we turned it around. We finally made [Chicago] a little uncomfortable and that led to some scoring for us.”
The Sky had scored the first six points of the second half to command their largest lead at 49-39, but Indiana regrouped and got seven points from Mitchell during a 13-1 run midway through the third quarter. Mitchell’s 3-pointer recaptured the lead for Indiana, 55-54, with 3:48 left in the period. Indiana withstood five tie scores but never trailed again, and took control when Wheeler’s free throws broke a 67-67 deadlock.
Four different Fever players scored buckets during a 12-2 fourth-quarter spurt that helped the Fever take command and lead by 10 points themselves, 79-69 on a bank shot by Erica Wheeler with 5:07 to play. Indiana outscored the home team 52-36 in the second half.
“We never count ourselves out,” said Mitchell. “We always know we have to get stops and climb back in it.”
Chicago shot 54 percent to become the fifth Fever opponent to shoot over 50 percent this season, but Indiana countered by forcing 18 turnovers and committing just four of their own, a club record. The Fever also was perfect from the foul stripe for the second time this season, collecting all 14 free throws.
Allie Quigley paced the Sky with 18 points and Tamera Young added 16. Stefanie Dolson pitched in 15 and Cappie Pondexter had 10. Jessica Breland eclipsed the 1,000-point plateau for her career while finishing with 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
Dupree’s game was a tale of two halves, but while struggling offensively to begin the game, she collected five boards by halftime to pass former Seattle star Lauren Jackson as the ninth-leading rebounder in WNBA history. Ironically the first draft pick in Sky history in 2006, she boasts 2,451 career rebounds.
“When my shot wasn’t falling in the first half, I tried to help my team by getting some stops and some rebounds,” said Dupree.
“I regrouped my thoughts in the locker room at halftime,” added Dupree. “I think I was rushing in the first half. I relaxed my mind and tried to get a little more lift and keep shooting.”
Erlana Larkins added a season-high 16 points for the Fever. Shenise Johnson added 14 and Briann January, playing for the first time since missing three games due to injury, contributed 10 points off the bench.
For the 12th consecutive game, Indiana’s bench outscored its opposing reserves — 33 to 8.
Indiana returns to Bankers Life Fieldhouse next Saturday to host defending WNBA champion Los Angeles. At halftime, the Fever will retire the No. 24 jersey in a tribute to 4-time Olympic gold medalist and 10-time WNBA All-Star Tamika Catchings.