ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Indiana Fever’s first visit to Xcel Energy Center was less than memorable.
Indiana’s Jazmon Gwathmey hit a corner 3-pointer on the game’s first possession, and Candice Dupree gave Indiana a 5-2 advantage with less than a minute gone in the opening period. From that point forward, Minnesota dominated every aspect of the game en route to a flurry of records for both clubs.
Minnesota used back-to-back 3-pointers from Renee Montgomery, and another by Plenette Pierson, to fuel the game’s next 13 points. Briann January brought the Fever within 15-7 with 6:45 left in the quarter and Gwathmey hit a pair of free throws to keep the Fever within 22-9 with 4:55 left in the quarter.
Over the next 11 minutes and 9 seconds, Indiana did not score. Minnesota’s 37 unanswered points were a WNBA record and led to what was then the largest deficit in Fever history, 59-9 with 4:54 to go in the first half. Natalie Achonwa’s short jumper with 3:46 in the half ended the Fever’s epic drought and was Indiana’s first field goal in more than 12 minutes.
“[The Lynx] were able to do anything they wanted after about 90 seconds,” said Fever coach Pokey Chatman after the loss. “They were hungry, they had lost 3 of 4 and they were back home. They pounded the ball down low to Syl [Sylvia Fowles] and they asserted their will.”
The Lynx led 68-23 at the intermission, racking up the most points ever against the Fever in a single half. Their 37 points in the first period were the most the Fever had ever allowed in a quarter. The 45-point halftime difference represented the largest halftime lead in WNBA history. The Lynx shot 75 percent in the first half, compared to just 8-of-32 shooting (25 percent) for Indiana. The Lynx made five 3-pointers, enjoyed a 22-7 rebounding edge and forced Indiana into 11 turnovers.
“We never, ever came close to recovering,” added Chatman.
Minnesota upped its lead in each of the third and fourth quarters to claim a 111-52 win to snap a two-game losing streak and win its 12th home game in 14 tries this year. Indiana suffered its third straight defeat and fell for the 13th time in the past 15 games. Indiana’s six-game road losing streak matched the second longest in club history.
Adding insult to injury, Indiana guard Briann January was whistled for a flagrant foul with 8:57 to play in the game, and was ejected, finishing with eight points and three assists. Moments later, the Lynx reached the century mark while leading by 57, 100-43. The lead reached 60, 107-47, on Montgomery’s fifth 3-pointer of the game. Minnesota grabbed its largest lead at 63, 111-48, on a jumper by Alexis Jones that tied the most points ever allowed by the Fever.
It was a far cry from Indiana’s 84-82 upset win over the league-leading Lynx just 12 days earlier in Indianapolis. Dupree scored a season-high 31 points in that one, but managed just 11 on Friday night. The six-time All-Star did not play in the fourth quarter, with Minnesota leading 87-39 after three quarters. Gwathmey, making her second start for the Fever, scored a team-high 12.
Fowles paced six Lynx players in double figures, finishing with 25 points. Montgomery added 20 and Jia Perkins scored 15 off the bench. Maya Moore contributed 11, while Pierson and Seimone Augustus each pitched in 10.
Indiana returns to Bankers Life Fieldhouse to host the Washington Mystics on Sunday at 5:00 p.m.