INDIANAPOLIS — Rachel Banham and Brionna Jones were a force to be reckoned with off the bench for the Connecticut Sun, as the duo lead a 15-2 run to start the fourth quarter in a 87-78 victory over the Indiana Fever on Star Wars Night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Banham scored a career high 20 points, including 5-5 from beyond the arc. Jones had a double-double, with a career high 18 points on 8-10 shooting and 10 rebounds in the win.
In total, Connecticut’s reserves would outscore their Indiana counterparts 46-10.
Courtney Williams had 14, nine rebounds, and five assists in the winning effort. Chiney Ogwumike finished with 13 points and had nine rebounds for the Sun.
All five Indiana starters scored in double figures for the first time this season. Natalie Achonwa led the group with 16 points on 7-7 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds. Her 7-for-7 mark from the field is tied for the third-most field goal attempts from the field without a miss in Fever history and is the best outing by a Fever player since 2012.
Candice Dupree had 15 points and eight rebounds. Vivians scored 14, Tiffany Mitchell had 12, and Kelsey Mitchell added 11 to round out the starters for Indiana.
Dupree opened the game with six straight points for Indiana. Her first two baskets came on trademark Dupree mid-range jump shots. Her third came on a skillful finger role in the post which tied the game at 6-6.
“Pokey was setting up a lot of isolation stuff for me,” says Dupree. “We forced them into some switches with some small guards on me and I was able to take advantage of that.”
Shekinna Stricklen would break the tie with a pair of 3-point field goals, as she had a first quarter high eight points for the Sun.
Connecticut would take an eight-point lead, 23-15, on a pair of Alex Bentley free throws in the waning moments of the first quarter. Erica Wheeler drove with purpose into the lane, drawing a foul on a made layup and cutting the deficit to 23-18 to end the first.
A 3-point barrage signaled the beginning of the second quarter, as Kelsey Mitchell would hit a pair of threes that were immediately matched by Morgan Tuck and Banham. The Fever found themselves down by eight again, but Tiffany Mitchell would score five straight points and Dupree found a clear lane to the basket to tip in a missed shot to cut the Sun lead to just three midway through the second.
After trailing for much of the first half, Wheeler hit a pull up jumper with just two seconds remaining to give Indiana a 45-43 lead, their first since an early 4-2 advantage.
The Fever entered the third quarter with a two-point lead, but Williams sliced through the Indiana defense for layup after layup on her way 12 third quarter points. Chiney Ogwumike added six points in the quarter, all in the post, aiding the Sun in overcoming the half time deficit and taking a 62-60 lead into the fourth.
“We always talk about having pivotal moments,” said Fever head coach Pokey Chatman. “I didn’t think we were tight in our game in those pivotal moments. Some things we did to ourselves, but I always have to give credit to the opposition. [Connecticut] got the rebounds and second-chance points and took advantage in those moments.”
The Sun came out firing in the fourth, getting in transition off of five Indiana turnovers in the opening minutes of the fourth and extending their lead to as many as 15 points.
“One of our goals was to force Connecticut to play against our half court defense,” says Chatman. “We didn’t do that at a high enough rate.”
Connecticut shot 10-for-16 from the field and outscored the Fever 25-18 in the fourth quarter.
“We just need to calm down and play our game,” says Victoria Vivians. “Not like confide in what they’re doing… just calm down and be who we are.”
The Fever will travel to Connecticut for a second consecutive matchup with the Sun on Wednesday.
Indiana Fever vs. Connecticut Sun
It was another solid performance from veteran Candice Dupree. The six-time All-Star put up 15 points as the Fever fell to the Sun, 87-78.
Rookie Victoria Vivians dropped in 14 points in the Fever’s Sunday afternoon contest with the Sun.
Tiffany Mitchell got to the hoop with some nifty drives, on Sunday afternoon, finishing with 12 points.