The Indiana Fever’s six-game losing skid has several causes, many of which have shown up on different nights: inconsistent outside scoring, subpar play in the final seconds of quarters, etc. The absence of size was added to the list after Thursday’s game versus Chicago.
With forward Queen Egbo out for the second game in a row, Indiana only had forward NaLyssa Smith who was taller than 6-2 available. At Indiana Farmers Coliseum, the Sky defeated the Fever 93-84 by pounding them inside and swarming defensively. It was Indiana’s first defeat in single digits during its losing streak.
Parker and Emma Meesseman, both 6-4, were in the starting lineup for the Sky (16-6) along with Azura Stevens, 6-6, and Li Yueru, 6-7. Together, Parker, Meesseman, and Stevens scored 50 points and pulled down 22 rebounds. As a unit, Chicago outrebounded the Fever 41-27 and scored 48 points in the paint.
The Fever was forced to play a more inside game as a result of the Sky’s perimeter defense blocking passes to the wings. Two minutes into the game, Emily Engstler got to the rim but Meesseman stopped her, and two minutes later, Victoria Vivians was stopped. Up to Kelsey Mitchell’s 3-pointer with 2:50 remaining in the first quarter, no other Fever player had scored besides Smith.
Late Comeback by Sky
Near the end of the fourth quarter, the Fever (5-19), who had been down for practically the entire game, mounted a late comeback. With just over two minutes remaining, Chicago’s advantage was reduced to 13, and Indiana had a remote chance of closing the gap. Smith grabbed a rebound after Mitchell missed a three-point attempt, but Stevens and 6-4 Ruthy Hebard quickly snatched it up beneath the rim. The youngster coughed up the ball because he had nowhere else to go.
“They block shots,” Smith said. “They’re more on the help-side. They help in the paint a lot more. It’s just when you drive you to know there’s going to be someone there to block your shot, so it’s just making the right pass, making the right shots.”
Mitchell produced her normal 27 points and five assists, while Smith finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
Interim Coach of Indiana Fever Carlos Knox in the Post-Game Interview
“We gotta try to be disruptive on the pass into the bigs from a guard standpoint and then fight our butt off to make sure that we try to get around the post because there are dynamic players. Candace (Parker) makes them so much better and it showed.”