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Monday, April 15, 2024

Fever get bulldozed by Storm, go winless in road stretch

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On Friday, the Fever capped off a four-game road trip with a 73-57 loss to the Seattle Storm. Indiana went 0-4 during its road stint.

Throughout most of the first half, Indiana stayed within striking distance of Seattle, as the Storm led 29-23 with five minutes left in the second quarter. The Storm then went on a four-minute, 17-2 run that opened up a comfortable double-digit lead. The Fever could not lower Seattle’s lead to under 10 points for the rest of the game.

“It just piled up on us,” Fever interim head coach Carlos Knox said. “One thing led to another and that second quarter was really a detriment to us.”

Indiana’s offense struggled mightily in Friday night’s game. The Fever made just 34 percent of their field goals and had 17 turnovers. It was the lowest-scoring outing of the year for the Fever.

“We had too many turnovers throughout the game tonight,” Fever guard Lexie Hull said. “That led to a lot of points in transition for them.”

Hull, who the Fever selected sixth overall in the 2022 WNBA Draft, made her first career start in Friday’s game and shot 2-for-11.

The Storm entered Friday with the best defensive rating in the WNBA. Seattle continued to showcase what makes its defense so effective.

“They have dynamic individuals at each position,” Knox said before the game. “They’re able to understand what’s going on at a high level and execute.”

“I didn’t think we got into a flow offensively,” Fever forward Queen Egbo said. “They made it hard for the people we needed to score.”

For much of the game, Fever guard Kelsey Mitchell was double-teamed whenever she received a screen. This led to Mitchell having three points and six turnovers. This is well below the 19.2 ppg that Mitchell averaged coming into Friday.

Mitchell, who averages the fifth-most points per game in the WNBA, had her lowest-scoring game of the year. Mitchell shot 1-for-6 and didn’t play in the fourth quarter due to the blowout.

“They were denying both entries to the wing and to the top of the key,” Knox said. “I think we kind of hid in the corner too much when we were trapped at a high level.”

“We just had trouble with their length,” Hull said. “I think it’s a mix of very aggressive defense and us just not being the aggressor offensively.”

Storm forward Breanna Stewart led the game with 20 points. The 2018 WNBA MVP has scored 10 or more points in all 18 games she’s played this year. Stewart shot 4-for-9 from the field and 10-for-12 at the free-throw line.

“I think she got loose a couple of times tonight and it showed,” Knox said. “You just have to simply contest her and make sure she’s always uncomfortable.”

“She’s just a player who can do everything,” Egbo said.

Egbo had a 14-point, 12-rebound double-double for the Fever. It was the center’s second double-double of her rookie season. Egbo shot 5-for-8 and was the only Fever player to score 10 or more points.

“I’m just worried about being more consistent every night,” Egbo stated. “I’m not trying to do too much but I’m not trying to do too little.”

All four of the Fever’s losses during this road trip were by double digits. Indiana took a 26-point loss to the Dallas Wings, a 12-point loss and a 21-point loss to the Phoenix Mercury and a 16-point loss on Friday to the Storm.

The Fever now have a 5-17 record this season, which is the worst in the WNBA. Indiana will return home on Tuesday to face the Storm yet again.

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

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