INDIANAPOLIS — Six players scored in double figures for Indiana to knock off the Dallas Wings, 84-78, Thursday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The team used a balanced offensive attack and a stingy defense that forced 21 turnovers that resulted in 29 points to counter the offense of Dallas star Liz Cambage, whose 37 points kept the Wings within striking distance in the second half.
“I thought we maintained a consistency in the offensive looks that we got,” said Fever head coach Pokey Chatman. “We moved the ball around really well. More importantly, I thought we did a good job attacking Cambage in the half court. She’s a phenomenal player offensively. One of the ways you can get some that back is to make her uncomfortable, attacking her, forcing seven turnovers, getting her away from the basket. Really pleased with the effort and it’s nice to come out with a win.”
The Fever scorers were led by Cappie Pondexter who scored a season-high 18 points on 7-10 shooting. Natalie Achonwa added 13, Candice Dupree contributed 12 and three steals, Victoria Vivians secured 12 points and snatched four steals of her own.
Indiana’s fifth and sixth double digit scorers came off the bench, as Kelsey Mitchell and Tiffany Mitchell each supplemented 10 points in the home win.
“We did a good job of moving the ball, we had a lot of assists tonight,” says Dupree. “People were knocking down shots, but the most important thing was that our offense was feeding off of our defense.”
This was the first time the Fever had six players score in double figures since July 10th, 2016 at Seattle.
Behind Cambage’s big night, Kaela Davis matched her season high with 15 points. Rookie Azura Stevens added 12 points and nine rebounds off the bench for the Wings.
Cambage opened the game with a strong post move that earned her the basket with a trip to the line, as she completed one of her many first quarter buckets on her way to 18 first quarter points.
“I look at Liz Cambage as the Wilt Chamberlain of the WNBA,” says Pondexter. “She’s a tough matchup and there’s nothing you can do about it. You make it tough by sending four or five bodies if you can… She’s a great player who’s having a tremendous year, but we knew that one player wasn’t going to beat us”
Pondexter was the first Fever veteran to ignite the offense, as the 5-foot, 9-inch guard opened the game with a layup, and two 3-point field goals giving her a quick eight points as part of a 14-point half for the most recent Fever acquisition. Her second 3-pointer gave Indiana an early 8-5 lead.
Cambage took over from there, as the 6-foot, 8-inch center dominated the remainder of the first quarter, propelling the Wings to a 25-20 lead at the end of one.
The difference in the game came in the second quarter, as Indiana shut down the Dallas offense en route to a 23-14 advantage in the frame.
“That’s really been our attention all year,” said Achonwa, as Indiana’s guards helped trap Dallas when the ball entered the paint. “So now you’re noticing because it’s the first time it’s really happened like that. Pokey’s been getting on the guards on trying to help in the post because we’re undersized. And so today it was executed that way. That’s why you saw such a clog in the paint.”
Dallas preserved their lead until Vivians drained back-to-back 3-pointers, giving Indiana a 32-30 lead, the team’s first since the opening minutes.
Indiana carried the momentum on through the remainder of the second, as Pondexter made another pair of deep 2-point field goals and Vivians made her third 3-pointer of the half, as the Fever took a 43-39 lead into the break, an advantage they would not relinquish.
Vivians was able to extend the lead soon after the third quarter began, as the rookie hit her fourth 3-pointer of the game, giving Indiana a 56-48 lead late in the third quarter.
Vivians now has 50 3-point field goals for the season. With Kelsey Mitchell’s 59, 3-point field goals, the duo are the second rookie pair in WNBA history to record 50 or more in a season (Tonya Edwards (66) Katie Smith (52) in 1999 for Minnesota).
Dallas used the final minutes of third to cut into Indiana’s lead, as Allisha Gray canned a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to four, 63-59, at the end of the quarter.
Things began to break midway through the fourth quarter, as Pondexter made a midrange jumper and Erica Wheeler knifed through the lane for a quick layup, extending the Indiana lead to eight, 76-68.
Despite a late scare that saw Dallas cut the lead to just four with less than a minute to play, Indiana staved off their attempt in the games final seconds to secure their second home win of the season.
The Fever will travel to New York for a matchup with the Liberty on Saturday.
Indiana Fever vs. Dallas Wings
Cappie Pondexter led the Fever in scoring with 18 points in their victory over the Dallas Wings.
Candice Dupree provided a smooth 12 points to go along with three assists, and three steals in the Fever’s win over the Wings.
Victoria Vivians was on fire from beyond the arc in the Fever’s victory over the Wings. The rookie guard connected on four shots from deep, en route to a 84-78 win.
Natalie Achonwa provided the Fever with a solid inside presence on Thursday night. Achonwa dropped in 13 points while also pulling down five boards in the Fever’s victory over the Wings.
Postgame: Cappie Pondexter
Cappie Pondexter spoke after the Fever win about the mindset she had on offense and how she wants to finish off this season.
Postgame: Candice Dupree
After the Fever win, Candice Dupree discussed the matchup with Liz Cambage and how the team was able to find room to score.
Postgame: Victoria Vivians
After the Fever win, Victoria Vivians talked about her mindset in big moments during the game and how she’s working on the defensive end.
Postgame: Pokey Chatman
After picking up a big win against the Wings, Pokey Chatman spoke about guarding Liz Cambage and about Cappie Pondexter’s performance.