Fever force OT, fall to Liberty

The Indiana Fever hosted the 2nd place New York Liberty Wednesday afternoon and the two teams couldn’t have been on more opposite journeys. The Fever rode a seven-game losing streak while the Liberty were looking to lock up a spot in the Commissioner’s Cup Finals against Las Vegas.

The Fever were handicapped from the start with two starters- Lexi Hull (broken nose) and NaLyssa Smith (foot) both sidelined, requiring Indiana to dip into their bench and give major playing time to some players who haven’t seen much of it this season.

Indiana didn’t hold back at all and treated the game like it was time to make a statement. Throughout their losing streak, only one game saw the Fever losing by more than 10 points and many games were just two or four points’ difference.

The Fever took it to the Liberty early, forcing Breanna Stewart and Sabrina Ionescu to go ice cold and the Indiana team really pressured the Liberty offense throughout the first half. It wasn’t until late in the first half and early in the second half that the Liberty really started to get hot and catch their stride.

Taking a 20-point lead in the second half, most teams would cave and fall apart but the Fever have been a second half team all season and have a history of erasing large deficits against good teams and this one was no different.

With Kelsey Mitchell on the bench, rookie Grace Berger took control and got hot, teaming up with fellow rookie Aaliyah Boston and Emma Cannon to cut the lead down to a three-point game with just a few minutes remaining.

With time expiring, Boston had the ball at the top of the key and drained a clutch three-pointer to tie the game, forcing overtime and breathing life into the Fever team.

It was in overtime that the Liberty took over and closed things out with a 95-87 final, coming just a few days after the Fever missed a last-second three-pointer and falling to Dallas by one point.

Even though the Fever may have dropped their eight-straight game, there’s still a lot of positives to take away from this one. Just like they have all season, they’re a team that poses a threat to any team in the league. They’ve held their own and threatened to defeat the top two teams in the league now and they’ve proved time and time again that no lead is safe against them.

If they can cut down their turnovers, stop missing easy layups and put-backs and tighten the screws on the fundamentals, they can still make the playoffs as they’re only two games behind Chicago for the final seed.

The Fever return to action next Wednesday, when they travel to Washington to take on a Mystics team they’ve split the season with so far- once losing by 12 but also winning by over 20.

-Reggie Edwards

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