INDIANAPOLIS – Liz Cambage scored 19 points and Las Vegas got 14 apiece from Kayla McBride and Kelsey Plum as the Aces slipped past the Indiana Fever, 74-71, before a loud crowd of 9,247 on Kids Day at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Cambage gave the Aces a 70-68 lead as the game clock crept under a minute to go, but Teaira McCowan put back an errant shot by Erica Wheeler as Indiana tied it with 33 seconds to play. A’ja Wilson’s game-winning layup put Las Vegas ahead again with just 15 seconds to play.
Indiana’s Candice Dupree missed the second of two free throws with 8.5 seconds left and Wilson’s free throws with 7.0 on the clock iced the win for the Aces.
Indiana (6-10) lost for the seventh time this season while playing within two possessions in the game’s final minute. It was Indiana’s second such loss to the second-place Aces in the past two weeks, this time absorbing its fifth consecutive home loss while Las Vegas (10-5) won its fourth straight game overall. The Aces beat the Fever 102-97 in overtime on June 29 in Las Vegas.
Dupree paced Indiana with 13 points to pull within 12 of passing WNBA legend Lisa Leslie in sixth place on the WNBA’s career scoring ladder. McCowan and Kelsey Mitchell each scored 11 for the Fever and Natalie Achonwa had 10.
McCowan, the WNBA’s only player to boast a double-double average since June 19, also added a game-high 12 rebounds to register her third double-double of the season. Wheeler’s fourth-quarter assist on Betnijah Laney’s tying 3-pointer moved her past former Indiana point guard Tully Bevilaqua into fourth place on the club’s career assist list.
In their contest two weeks earlier, the Aces commanded a 50-32 advantage on the glass, but this time Indiana managed a 38-37 rebounding edge. A difference Wednesday afternoon, besides the Fever’s 24 percent shooting in the fourth quarter, was Indiana turnovers.
The Fever committed eight miscues in the first period, alone, but none again until three costly mistakes in the game’s final five minutes.
“I thought our D was solid enough to put us in position to win a basketball game – but evidently it wasn’t enough,” said Fever coach Pokey Chatman. “We had eight turnovers [in the first quarter] and then we had zero [until the last five minutes of the game]. What changed? We know we are good enough to win games, but we can’t make errors at crunch time.”
Indiana scored the game’s first eight points, but turnovers helped Las Vegas pull to a 12-all deadlock after one quarter. The Aces used an 11-0 spurt of their own to command a 36-29 lead late in the second period, and led 38-35 at halftime.
The Aces maintained their lead through most of the third quarter until Kelsey Mitchell’s 3-pointer knotted the score and Tiffany Mitchell hit the first of two free throws for a 54-53 lead, Indiana’s first of the second half. The Fever ended the quarter with a 13-3 run to claim a 61-56 advantage headed to the fourth period.
A reverse layup by Cambage helped Las Vegas regain the lead midway through the fourth quarter as Indiana shooting went ice cold to begin the period, making just one of 11 shot attempts before Candice Dupree brought the Fever within 66-65 with 2:25 to play. A 3-pointer by Laney tied the game at 68 with 1:44 to play to set up the game’s final moments with Indiana and Las Vegas playing to the buzzer for the second time in 11 days.