It had been a long while since the Indiana Fever opened a season with a win. It has been even longer since a 2-0 start, which is what they will try to achieve Tuesday night when they face the Connecticut Sun.
The Fever finished last in the WNBA in 2018 with six victories, but they got off to a positive start Friday night by edging the New York Liberty 81-80. Rookie Teaira McCowan converted a layup as time expired as Indiana won a season-opener for the first time since 2013.
“I haven’t ever hit a game-winner before,” said McCowan, the No. 3 overall pick, to The Associated Press. “Not in AAU, high school or college.”
McCowan finished with 11 points and six rebounds in just 14 minutes off the bench for the Fever, who last started with back-to-back wins in 2012. Tiffany Mitchell scored 13 of her 22 points at the foul line, and Erica Wheeler contributed 16 points, six rebounds and five assists.
Though still a rebuilding team with 15 victories combined the last two years, the Fever have recorded five of their last seven wins on the road dating back to the start of the 2018 season. Indiana has also lost seven of its last nine to Connecticut, including four straight at Mohegan Sun since an 88-77 victory June 5, 2016.
Connecticut had an easier time of it in winning its season opener, defeating Washington 84-69 on Saturday. Though the Sun’s task was made easier with Mystics star Elena Delle Donne sidelined with a sore knee, they looked impressive in pulling away in the second half. Jasmine Thomas scored six of her 13 points in a game-breaking 21-4 third-quarter run in which six different Connecticut players contributed at least two points.
Alyssa Thomas had 23 points and eight rebounds, with her and Jasmine Thomas finding a game-long connection as Jasmine Thomas finished with six assists.
“She is our engine. Jas and her are such a battery for us,” Sun coach Curt Miller told the Hartford Courant about Alyssa Thomas. “Some nights she’s a facilitator. Tonight she was the finisher. … She had a great night finishing inside, a great night in that lane area where she makes her money. She’s one of the best in the league in that area, and tonight she was forced to go finish.”
The Sun are looking to start 2-0 for the second straight year after reeling off five victories to open last year en route to a playoff appearance. They also have won eight straight at home dating back to last year.
(Photo courtesy Connecticut Sun official Twitter account)