INDIANAPOLIS – After trailing by as many as 20 points in the second quarter, the Indiana Fever completed the largest comeback win in franchise history with a 86-75 victory over the Minnesota Lynx on Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Indiana trailed by 10 at the half, 48-38, before blitzing Minnesota in the third. The Fever shot 13-for-17 from the field, good for a 29-11 advantage in the frame. Indiana took their first lead of the game, 54-53, during the third and protected it until the final buzzer.
“So many positive things,” said Fever head coach Pokey Chatman on the win. “I’ll start with the second half defensive effort from the unit that ended the second quarter and started the third – they kept that momentum. They also married that to 29 points in the third quarter.”
Kelsey Mitchell paced the Fever off the bench with 20 points while dishing a career high nine assists.
As a whole, Indiana received 55 points from the bench, as Shenise Johnson scored 12 points, Natalie Achonwa added 11, and Stephanie Mavunga matched a career high with 10 points.
“55 bench points was pretty incredible,” said Chatman. “I gave the game ball to the kids from Ohio State. I thought Mavunga was disruptive, her energy was good. Kelsey scored points and I was really pleased with the nine assists. I was glad to see those players step up.”
The Lynx were led by Sylvia Fowles who had 17 points. Rookie Napheesa Collier had 14 points and seven rebounds. Guard Danielle Robinson added 11 for the visitors.
Minnesota, in their first game post All-Star break, blitzed Indiana from the tipoff. An early bucket by Teaira McCowan was the only resistance to an 11-2 run by the Lynx to open the game.
Minnesota led by as many as 11, 21-10, before Kelsey Mitchell checked into the game to energize the Fever offense. The second-year guard out of Ohio State scored seven first quarter points, including a layup in the final seconds of the first quarter, cutting the deficit to 23-19.
Much like the start of the first, Minnesota opened the second quarter aggressively as a Lexie Brown three-pointer began a 18-2 run by the Lynx, giving them a 41-21 lead midway through the frame.
The Fever spent the remainder of the first half chipping away at the Minnesota lead, as four quick points by Tiffany Mitchell and a three-point play by Natalie Achonwa to end the half cut a once 20-point deficit to only 10, 48-38.
Lynx reserve center Temi Fagbenle was a huge reason for the Lynx success early on, scoring 14 first half points on 7-for-8 from the field.
Indiana decided to strike first to open the second half, going on a 7-0 run as Stephanie Mavunga scored on a pair of looks inside and Shenise Johnson hit a three-pointer to cut the Minnesota lead to a single possession, 48-45.
With momentum on their side, Indiana took their first lead of the game, 54-53, as Tiffany Mitchell lasered a pass in to Mavunga for a basket in transition. Indiana scored the next six points, taking a 60-53 lead and forcing a Minnesota timeout.
“We just weathered the storm,” said Kelsey Mitchell. “We knew they are a tough opponent, so we had to weather the storm. It took everybody battling to stay with it.”
The Fever took a 67-59 lead heading into the final frame.
The Lynx made an 8-2 run early in the fourth, including six points from Fowles, as the Fever clung to a 69-67 lead.
After trading buckets with the Lynx, Indiana extended their lead to seven, 78-71, on a three-pointer by Tiffany Mitchell.
Mitchell was the lone starter in double digits for Indiana, pouring in 17 points and swiping three steals.
“Once we cut it down at halftime, we were in really good spirits,” said Mitchell. “We knew what we were capable of doing.”
Indiana continued to keep the Lynx at arm’s length, securing their second straight win at home.
The Fever now head on the road, looking to extend their win streak to three in a matchup with Washington on Thursday.