After getting their four-game homestand off to a positive start, the Indiana Fever look to beat a team besides the New York Liberty on Friday night when they host the winless Dallas Wings.
Indiana (2-1) has bracketed an 88-77 loss at Connecticut with a pair of wins over New York, including a 92-77 romp at home Saturday. Kelsey Mitchell hit five 3-pointers and was one of four players who had a basket in a game-opening 11-0 tear that put the Fever in control of a wire-to-wire win.
Mitchell finished with 23 points and Erica Wheeler added 10 as she reached the 1,000-point mark for her career. Indiana, which had six wins all of last year, did not record its second victory in 2018 until its 18th game.
“Top of mind is to continue on the defensive end of the floor,” Fever coach Pokey Chatman said to the IndyStar.com. “Early in the season, everyone is trying to figure things out offensively. … It’s really about us and sticking to that defensive message of being a dirt-work, blue collar team.”
Wheeler is averaging team highs of 17.3 points and 6.7 assists for Indiana and is shooting 64.7 percent. Indiana’s defense, though, is still a work in progress as it has allowed 77 or more points in all three contests.
Dallas’ rebuild since dealing superstar Liz Cambage in the offseason may not be as bad as initially feared with tight losses in its first two contests. The Wings (0-2) have lost both games by a combined seven points following Saturday’s 70-67 defeat to Minnesota.
Kayla Thornton scored 12 points and Arike Ogunbowale added 11 as Dallas twice closed within two after erasing almost all of a 14-point deficit without getting over the hump. Thornton’s effort keyed a solid bench effort from the Wings, who got more points from their reserves (39) than starters (28).
One of those bench players who could be in line to crack the first five is Azura Stevens, who had 10 points, eight rebounds and three blocks in her season debut after missing the opener with post-concussion symptoms.
“There’s no question Azura has a talent to be a really, really good player in this league, but she’s still working back through injury and those kinds of things,” Wings coach Brian Agler told the Dallas Morning News.
Dallas is averaging a league-low 69.5 points and its 36.3 percent shooting ranks last in the 12-team league in the early going. The Wings are also 11th in 3-point shooting at 27.3 percent (9 for 33).
Indiana avoided being swept in last year’s three games with an 84-78 victory Aug. 2.
(Erica Wheeler photo courtesy Indiana Fever official Twitter account)