INDIANAPOLIS — In a regular season finale between two teams out of playoff contention, a 27-point third quarter helped the San Antonio Stars hand the Indiana Fever a 75-71 home loss at Bankers Life Fieldhouse Saturday night. San Antonio’s Kayla McBride packaged 28 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in the win.
Saturday night was also Fan Appreciation Night presented by Sport Graphics for the Fever. Loyal Indiana fans were treated to numerous giveaways all night before joining the Fever on the court for a postgame autograph session.
“The fans] have been huge,” Candice Dupree said. “They’ve stuck with us the entire season. It’s been a difficult season. For them to keep coming out night in and night out, it means a lot.”
Dupree recorded 19 points and 13 rebounds in her second-straight double-double and fourth of the season. Erica Wheeler added 14 points and six assists while a determined Natalie Achonwa chipped in 18 points on 8-for-9 shooting to go along with eight rebounds.
San Antonio’s Kelsey Plum added 11 points and five assists while Kayla Alexander and Dearica Hamby added 11 points and 10 points, respectively.
Stellar defense and a 7-0 run to end the second quarter gave Indiana momentum and a 32-28 lead heading into the half. The Fever trailed 15-18 through the first after shooting just 33 percent, but held the Stars to 10 points in the second quarter before capping the half with a deep 3-pointer at the buzzer from Wheeler.
Wheeler’s bullseye from near half court transferred to confidence in the third quarter, notching another seven points in the first three minutes.
Indiana extended the lead to eight before an 18-6 run from San Antonio, and a 3-point exclamation from Plum, put the Stars in front, 55-51.
McBride opened the fourth with a triple, extending the run to 21-6 and the lead to 58-51.
The Fever hung within striking distance until midway through the fourth quarter. A scoring flurry from Dupree and Jeanette Pohlen-Mavunga cut the deficit to one at 66-65 with 2:34 to play.
A three-point play from McBride with 2:04 left swung the momentum back to San Antonio as they took a four-point lead and iced the game, and the season, at the free-throw line.
The third-quarter run and a 27-19 advantage for San Antonio in the quarter proved to be the difference in a deadlocked game on the stat sheet. Indiana outrebounded the Stars 35-34 while both teams shot at a similar clip. A rare 67 percent night from the free-throw line for the league’s top free-throw shooting team hindered Indiana, as well.
Indiana ends the season 9-25 and a game in front of the Stars at 8-26. San Antonio snapped a four-game losing streak on Saturday night while Indiana heads into the postseason after losing eight straight.
“The bottom line is we know we have to get better in the offseason,” Fever head coach Pokey Chatman said. “But I trust this group will come back hungry and strong.”