NEW YORK – The Indiana Fever scored the game’s final 14 points and outscored the New York Liberty 21-7 in the fourth period to claim an 86-81 road win at Westchester County Center.
Candice Dupree’s left baseline jumper staked the Fever to an 82-81 lead with 1:28 to go in the contest, and Kelsey Mitchell’s driving baseline layup on the ensuing possession put Indiana on top by three as the Fever scored 12 unanswered points since an 81-72 deficit. As the Liberty resorted to fouling in the final minute, Dupree tacked on a free throw and Mitchell added another as the Fever doubled their win total, 12, from a year earlier.
Mitchell shot 9-of-17 with three 3-pointers to lead the Fever with 22 points, scoring more than 20 for the sixth time this season. She now ranks fourth in a Fever season with 70 3-pointers to match her rookie total from 2018.
Dupree, who pulled within 11 points of passing Liberty coach Katie Smith (6,452) as the fifth-leading scorer in WNBA history, finished with 17. With 6,442 career points, she can pass Smith in the Fever’s final contest, Sunday, against Connecticut.
Indiana (12-21) won for the third time in five games and captured the season series with the Liberty, 3-1. While the Fever stayed at .500 (6-6) since the All-Star Break, New York (9-24) lost its sixth straight and its 13th in 14 games. By virtue of the Indiana win and two-year records for both clubs, the Liberty (16-51) clinched top odds in the upcoming WNBA Draft Lottery, with Indiana (18-49) entering with second-best odds to claim the No. 1 selection in next year’s draft.
It will mark a third straight season that Indiana has earned a lottery draft pick. Their 2019 lottery selection, rookie center Teaira McCowan, continued her own onslaught on the record books Friday with a 14-point, 13-rebound effort that broke an Indiana record with her fifth consecutive double-double. With 296 rebounds on the season, she enters Indiana’s final game just eight boards shy of breaking Erlana Larkins’ 2014 club record of 303. McCowan also ranks seventh in league history among rookie rebounders and has averaged a double-double since her first start June 19.
New York led early, led by as many as 13 and never trailed during the second half until the deciding moments.
“Some people made some key reads and key plays for us,” said Fever coach Pokey Chatman. “Erica Wheeler made a big steal and assist at the end, and we got some clutch plays to help us come back from down 13. Offense is always sexy, but it’s defense that usually gets the W, and we got stops when we needed them late.”
Wheeler added six points with a pair of 3-pointers, and added six assists and four steals for the victorious Fever.
The Liberty got 19 points and 11 rebounds from veteran forward Tina Charles in a head-to-head matchup with McCowan most of the evening. Marine Johannes scored 16 points with a pair of 3-pointers and Rebecca Allen contributed 11.
Indiana closes its 2019 season at Bankers Life Fieldhouse against the Sun on Sunday at 4:00 p.m.