INDIANAPOLIS – The Fever overcame a 22-point deficit but were unable to complete the comeback in a 78-74 loss to the Lynx at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Tuesday night.
After Indiana trailed by 22 early in the third quarter, Kelsey Mitchell gave The Fever a 63-61 lead on a three-pointer with 6:07 remaining in the fourth. It was Indiana’s first lead since they led 5-4 with 7:13 on the clock in the first quarter.
Minnesota responded with Damiris Dantas three-pointer that began a 10-0 run that gave the visitors a 71-63 lead.
Natalie Achonwa had a put-back basket that cut the Lynx lead to 76-72 with 9.3 seconds remaining, but Odyssey Sims put the game away at the free throw line to secure the win for the Lynx.
“You get tired of the same song and dance,” said Fever guard Kelsey Mitchell. “Coming out flat and having to play catch up is tough, especially in this league and the players we play against on a given night. We know we can compete and win games – it just gets old. We know what we have to do.”
Sims led the way for Minnesota, scoring a game high 25 points while adding seven assists and five steals. Minnesota’s starting forwards both scored in double digits as Napheesa Collier chipped in 16 points and Dantas added 15 points in the win.
The starting backcourt for Indiana led the way as Kelsey Mitchell had 17 points and Erica Wheeler contributed 13 of her own. Achonwa came off the bench for 10 points and seven rebounds.
Sylvia Fowles led the charge early for the visitors. The 11-year veteran scored six of Minnesota’s first 14, giving them an 14-7 lead midway through the first quarter.
Fowles finished the game just shy of a double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds.
Indiana scored the next four including a layup by Tiffany Mitchell that gave the guard over 1,000 points for her career. Mitchell is just the 15th player in Fever history to reach that landmark with the franchise, joining Erica Wheeler, Candice Dupree, and Natalie Achonwa on reaching that plateau this season.
“It means a lot honestly,” said Tiffany Mitchell. “I know this is a great mark to reach in my career and a lot of people don’t reach this point. To be able to do it with the same team in four years and be surrounded by such great people that put me in positions to be successful. I’m just really thankful to accomplish this feat.”
Sims scored four of her nine first quarter points in the final seconds of the opening period to give the Lynx a 23-12 lead at the end of one.
Minnesota led by as many as 20, 43-23, at the end of the second quarter. Collier was a big part of that growing lead, as the rookie scored seven of her 11 first half points in the second.
Indiana shot just 9-of-35 in the first half while also surrendering nine turnovers.
The Fever made a 10-0 run in the third quarter, as Wheeler scored 11 points in the period that helped the home team cut the deficit that was once 20 down to eight, 60-52, to end the third.
“The defense got our offense going in transition,” said Wheeler. “It started with Betnijah [Laney]. Her defense and energy were incredible. [Achonwa] just told us we needed to match Betnijah’s energy and that’s what we did. It got us some transition points so we just got out and ran.”
Teaira McCowan was a bright spot for Indiana in the third quarter. The rookie center scored six points inside and blocked a Fowles shot near the rim. McCowan finished the game with 11 points and seven rebounds.
Indiana outscored the visiting Lynx 29-17 in the third quarter.
Indiana continued their hot streak into the fourth quarter, going on an 8-0 run that included a McCowan basket and the foul.
Indiana was unable to complete the comeback as Minnesota buried their free throws late in the fourth to secure the win.
The Fever embark on a three-game road trip beginning in Phoenix on Friday night. Indiana will look to avenge a home loss against the Mercury in their lone matchup so far this season.