ARLINGTON, Texas — Karima Christmas-Kelly scored a career-high 27 points against her former team, pacing the Dallas Wings to a 89-62 win over the Indiana Fever at College Park Center. Christmas-Kelly, a member of Indiana’s WNBA championship team in 2012, shot 10-of-14 from the field.
Indiana led 9-5 on consecutive baskets by Tiffany Mitchell in the game’s early moments, but things went sideways for the Fever, literally, soon after.
Mitchell’s college teammate, Wings rookie Allisha Gray, sparked a 9-0 run that helped Dallas surge to a 14-9 lead. Then, Mitchell, making her first start of the season, spun and fell hard while chasing a steal and was forced to leave the game with a right hip injury. The Wings continued their assault and eventually scored 19 unanswered points to command a 24-9 lead late in the opening period.
Mitchell returned to the floor before halftime, but Dallas raised its lead to 18, 50-32, on a putback by Christmas-Kelly. The Wings forward collected a season-high 19 points by intermission when Dallas led 52-35.
“Dallas set the tone early and we let them get comfortable,” said Fever coach Pokey Chatman. “We knew that we needed to slow their transition game, and we just didn’t do a very good job.”
Indiana opened the third period with a pair of buckets by Candice Dupree and free throws by Erlana Larkins to close within 54-41, but the Wings scored nine straight points to extend their lead. A three-point play by Skylar Diggins-Smith pushed the margin to 20, and Christmas-Kelly made two charity tosses for a 63-41 advantage.
Soniya Chong scored two free throws with 6:21 left in the game to stake Dallas to an 82-58 lead. The lead ballooned to 27 on a 3-pointer by Theresa Plaisance.
Indiana, playing without starting guard Shenise Johnson, shot 36 percent from the field, but allowed 48 percent shooting by Dallas which made six 3-pointers and outrebounded the Fever, 41-30. The Wings also were the beneficiary of 19 points off 17 Indiana turnovers.
Chatman added, “A couple games ago, we led the league in taking care of the basketball. But we didn’t do that well tonight and we didn’t rebound. When you give up 12 offensive rebounds, that’s just like turning the ball over. It’s giving up easy points.”
Reserve center Natalie Achonwa led Indiana with a season-high 13 points, her third game with double-figure scoring off the bench. Marissa Coleman and Candice Dupree each scored eight points for the Fever, who also received seven points from Mitchell. Erlana Larkins contributed six points and six rebounds.
Gray added 14 points and nine rebounds for the Wings, while Diggins-Smith and Kayla Thornton each added 12 for the Wings, who travel to New York on Friday before facing the Fever again, Saturday, in Indianapolis.