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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Fever fall at Liberty, lose both games of back-to-back

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The Fever lost 87-74 at the New York Liberty on Wednesday. This comes after falling 87-75 at home on Tuesday to the Washington Mystics.

Sabrina Ionescu led the Liberty with 23 points as she shot 6-for-11 from the field, 3-of-7 on 3s and 8-for-8 at the foul line. Ionescu also added seven rebounds to her stat line on the night.

“She’s such an aggressive scorer coming off her screens,” Fever interim head coach Carlos Knox said. “What makes her so great is she can kind of pick and choose her spots. Her change of pace is great.”

“You’ve got to be on your toes when it comes to Sabrina,” Fever guard Kelsey Mitchell said. “I feel like when we relaxed, she took advantage.”

In five career games versus the Fever, Ionescu has averaged 19 points per game. Ionescu tallied 31 points in Indiana’s overtime win over New York on May 13.

Ionescu wasn’t the Liberty’s only effective scorer on Wednesday. Rebecca Allen scored 17 points, and Natasha Howard and Stefanie Dolson scored 16 each.

Mitchell, who was named the WNBA’s Eastern Conference Player of the Week on Tuesday, led the Fever with 17 points on Wednesday. This comes after a 26-point effort by Mitchell in Indiana’s loss to the Mystics. On Wednesday, Mitchell shot just 5-of-16 on field goals and 3-for-9 on her 3s.

Bria Hartley made her Fever debut and began her ninth WNBA season on Wednesday. The 29-year-old guard had 10 points in her debut. Hartley, who was dealt to the Fever in a five-team trade in February, had missed the team’s first 11 games.

“I just feel like the team style of play really fits my style of play,” Hartley said.

Hartley was playing in Turkey when she sustained a left hamstring injury. She has been with the team since May 22, but the hamstring injury kept her out of the lineup for four games.

“She came in and she was able to give us a lift,” Knox said. “It was a pleasure to see her out there enjoying herself and getting acclimated to what we had going on.”

Indiana led 66-65 after the third quarter. The Liberty then outscored the Fever 22-8 in the final period. Queen Egbo’s made shot with 26 seconds left was the only field goal for Indiana in the fourth quarter.

Knox felt like the ball was “sticking” too much for the Fever. “We had several players that felt like they could get it going themselves,” Knox said, adding that the team fell into a “one-on-one mindset.”

“Our pace was really bad,” Mitchell claimed. “I don’t know where we’re missing the mark at but I think it’s on us to figure it out.”

The Fever shot just 16-for-50 (32 percent) on their 2-point attempts against the Liberty. Heading into Wednesday, Indiana’s 43.5 percent 2-point field goal percentage was the worst in the WNBA.

“I think that comes down to focus,” Hartley stated. “We’ve got to focus when we’re getting [inside] and make sure we’re finishing.”

With the loss, the Fever’s record dipped to 3-9 on the season. Indiana will play the second game of its three-game road trip against the Atlanta Dream on Sunday afternoon.

Zion Brown is a sports reporter for NextGen Sports, a collaboration with The Recorder Media Group.

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