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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Rhyne Howard shines as Fever fall to Dream at home

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The Fever took an 85-79 loss to the Atlanta Dream at home on Sunday. This loss snapped the team’s two-game winning streak.

Dream rookie Rhyne Howard shined for Atlanta with 33 points on 9-for-18 shooting. Howard was 12-for-17 at the free-throw line on Sunday. Her 33 points are the most in a WNBA game so far this season.

“We can’t let any individual player have a night like Rhyne had,” Fever head coach Marianne Stanley stated. Stanley added that Howard can “score in a lot of different ways.”

Howard was the first overall pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft, as she was taken one pick ahead of Fever forward NaLyssa Smith. Smith had 18 points and made three 3s for the Fever on Sunday. 

With 6:29 left in the game, Smith suffered a sprained right ankle and she did not return to the game. Stanley said that Smith’s ankle is currently swollen and that the team doesn’t know her status yet.

Kelsey Mitchell tallied 27 points and shot 8-for-16 for Indiana in the loss. This is Mitchell’s third straight game scoring over 20 points. It was also Mitchell’s 28th consecutive game with at least 10 points, the longest active streak in the WNBA.

“It kind of falls on my shoulders to always do what I need to do for my team,” Mitchell said.

As Mitchell spoke to the media, her backcourt mate Danielle Robinson shouted “ALL STAR” in the background of the press conference room. This is a campaign that the Fever have pushed this season, as Stanley first vouched for Mitchell’s All-Star candidacy last Tuesday.

The free throw disparity made a big difference in the game. Atlanta shot 30 free throws as they made 23. Indiana was just 12-of-19 at the foul line.

“When things aren’t going your way, you’ve got to make better than 63 percent,” Stanley said.

While the Fever shot 11-of 23 (47.8 percent) on 3-pointers, the team was just 17-of-45 (37.8 percent) on 2-pointers.

“The thing about Atlanta is that they clog the paint,” Robinson said. “If the ball stays on one side, it’s easy for them to guard. But if we reverse the ball and make them move a little bit, I think we’ll get better opportunities.”

Indiana is now 2-3 on the year and 1-2 in Commissioner’s Cup games. The Fever will look to avenge the loss on Tuesday night as they’ll host the Dream at Gainbridge Fieldhouse again.

“We have the opportunity on Tuesday night to play them again, which we’re excited about,” Robinson said.

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

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