Indianapolis — In their first game in August, the Indiana Fever came up short against the visiting Chicago Sky 81-70, Friday night. The Fever fall to 8-17 on the season.
Candice Dupree led Indiana with 18 points in her third straight game in double figures, and added six rebounds. Natalie Achonwa scored 14 points and grabbed four rebounds for the Fever. It was also Achonwa’s third double-digit scoring effort in four games. Tiffany Mitchell scored in double figures for the fifth straight time, posting 11 points and a team-high seven rebounds. Briann January had seven points and recorded a season-high eight assists.
The Fever had some stretches of strong defense, but want to be more consistent.
“Same situation as usual, we just have to play 40 minutes and do it on the defensive end,” Achonwa said. “We’re getting good shots. We’re getting shots we want but they’re not falling. So then it affects our defense and we just really need to focus on our D, because when we’re good we’re great and then when we’re not it’s really bad.”
Courtney Vandersloot recorded her third straight double-double, scoring 18 points and notching 10 assists. Former Fever player Allie Quigley had 15 points and six rebounds for Chicago, which improved to 9-16 on the year and avoided a season sweep at the hands of the Fever.
Indiana started the game off strong, holding what would end up being its largest lead of the game in the first quarter, when it held a 15-7 advantage. The Fever forced Chicago into nine first quarter turnovers, scoring 11 points off those miscues.
The Sky took their first lead of the game two minutes into the second quarter and held it until the Fever regained the lead in the opening minute of the fourth quarter on an Erica McCall layup. The Fever outscored Chicago in the first and third quarters, but were outscored by double digits in both the second and fourth quarters.
“We talked a lot about sustaining our defense, sustaining our intensity and ball pressure and not letting ourselves get affected by tough shots that go in or spurts of momentum,” coach Pokey Chatman said. “During the second and fourth quarters, we obviously didn’t do a very good job of that.”
The two teams were tied at 58 with 8:25 to play before Chicago went on a 12-0 run that handed it the lead for good. Indiana narrowed the gap to six points on a Jazmon Gwathmey 3-pointer with 1:14 to play, but were unable to come any closer, as Indiana missed its last three shots.
“We had good spurts and bad spurts. Once again we stopped making shots and our defense fell off. It can’t happen,” Dupree said. “Transition defense wasn’t very good. We have to find a way to get back. Can’t just let one person dribble all the way down and make a layup. I feel like the effort was there for the most part. We just have to be smarter.”
The game served as Breast Health Awareness Night for the Fever, with pink jerseys and pink on-court logos. An online auction held the week of the game offered fans the opportunity to bid on the jerseys worn in the game, as well as other autographed memorabilia. Proceeds from the auction benefit Community Health Network Foundation’s Oncology Patient Assistance Fund, which provides vouchers for food, medicine and gas to community cancer patients in financial need.
Next up for Indiana is a home game with the Minnesota Lynx, Sunday night. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. ET.