Tiffany Mitchell scored 16 points to lead three double-figure scorers Friday as the Indiana Fever downed the Dallas Wings, 76-56 at College Park Center. Defensive pressure and 19 points off Wings turnovers fueled the Fever’s largest victory margin of the season.
Mitchell came off the bench to shoot 6-of-9 from the floor with a pair of 3-pointers to pace Indiana scoring leaders for the second time this season. Natalie Achonwa made her first start since June 15 and finished with 13 points. Point guard Erica Wheeler stuffed the stat sheet with 11 points, six rebounds and a game-high seven assists. Rookie Teaira McCowan came off the bench to register nine points and 12 rebounds.
“It was a great effort by everyone who stepped on the floor,” said Indiana coach Pokey Chatman. “We actually took some momentum from our last game, even though it was a loss (102-97 in overtime at Las Vegas). We moved the ball really well and got a lot of touches and I thought out defense was solid throughout. It’s tough to hold a team to 56 points in this league.”
Indiana limited the home team to 32 percent shooting and moved to 5-2 when keeping opponents under 40 percent from the floor. The Fever shot 48 percent and took advantage of a 38-30 rebounding edge, despite a deficit on the boards in the first period.
“Our defensive pressure was key, and our offense fed off it,” said Mitchell who paced a balanced attack that included nine points and 12 rebounds from Teaira McCowan, and eight points apiece from starters Candice Dupree and Kelsey Mitchell. “It might have been the best game we have played all season, in terms of all four quarters with that defensive intensity.”
The Fever kept the Wings to quarter totals of 14, 16, 13 and 13, and stretched their margin virtually wire to wire. Dallas’ only lead in the game came at 12-9.
Theresa Plaisance and Arike Ogunbowale each scored 15 points in a losing effort for Dallas.
Indiana (6-9) snapped a four-game losing skid and completed a three-game sweep of the Wings this season. The sweep was the Fever’s first of any WNBA opponent since winning four games over Connecticut in 2015. The Fever moved percentage points ahead of Dallas in the WNBA standings while capturing their sixth win to match their 2018 total. The Wings (4-8) lost for just the third time in the past seven games.
Indiana assumed control late in the first half as reserves McCowan and Tiffany Mitchell sparked a pair of Fever runs. A 7-2 spurt gave Indiana a 23-17 lead and an 11-4 sequence pushed the Fever lead to nine, 34-25, with three minutes before intermission. McCowan and Mitchell both had seven points at halftime and McCowan added seven rebounds.
The Fever scored the first seven points of the second half to assume a double-digit lead and never looked back. The Wings closed the gap to single digits on multiple occasions but never got closer than nine. Erica Wheeler’s steal and layup with 5:22 to play staked the Fever to a 65-49 lead, then their largest margin of the game. Moments later, Candice Dupree’s jumper stretched the lead to 17 and a 3-pointer by Tiffany Mitchell made it 72-54 as the clock wound to 2:03. Buckets by Stephanie Mavunga and Kennedy Burke pushed the lead to 22 at 76-54.
The Fever return to Indianapolis to begin a four-game homestand and host the Las Vegas Aces in annual Kids Day game, next Wednesday at noon.
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