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 Indiana Fever

Boston's Career Night Exemplifies Grit, Perseverance of Fever

June 13, 2024 - Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA)
Indiana Fever News Release

The newly 4-10 Fever are no strangers to adversity, but they had to reach another gear on Thursday to grind out a win against a physical Atlanta Dream team. More than that, they completed the win on the back of a player facing her own adversity in the beginning of this historic season.

Aliyah Boston, reigning Rookie of the Year and 2023 WNBA All-Star starter, shot 57% from the field last year during her rookie campaign.

She came into Thursday's contest shooting just 42% through the first 13 games of Indiana's season.

"Honestly, I think I've had a pretty rough start from what I'm used to," Boston said. "Or even what I did last year, but I think what's important for me is that I just keep my mental good. I'm just focusing on showing up each and every day, just continuing to do what the team needs."

Her team needed all 27 points and 13 rebounds - her third double-double of the season - to defeat the Dream on Thursday. Boston needed it too.

"I've just been needing one like this," Boston said. "Where I just feel like I'm dominant and I'm getting to my spots."

Boston's dominance drove Indiana to its fourth win on the season, and her scoring led the Fever on their way to 91 total points - tied for the most scored against the Dream this year.

Indiana scored 59 points in the first half - outscoring Atlanta by 15 - but tallied just 14 points in the third quarter, allowing the Dream to make a run in the fourth.

"When we're at our best, it's really hard for teams to stop us," Boston said. "And I think we saw that in the first half. We were kind of getting what we needed. And then that second half, we started off really slow in that third quarter...This whole season so far we've just talked about being resilient. We've talked about just getting back up, and Atlanta hit us with a punch and we were able to get back up and just close it out with the win."

The Fever have a 4-2 record in games decided by five points or less, and they keep leaning on grit and perseverance to power them in clutch time. Most of that grit translates into stifling defense.

Coach Christie Sides and her staff have dubbed three consecutive defensive stops a "kill," and Indiana's late game kill in the midst of a Rhyne Howard 3-point flurry stagnated Atlanta's offense, paving the way for the Fever to seal the win.

"Great Fever win, great team win," Sides said. "...Really proud of my team on the defensive end getting those stops."

Indiana has plenty of firepower on offense - both Boston and Kelsey Mitchell eclipsed 20 points on Thursday, and NaLyssa Smith and Katie Lou Samuelson both scored in double figures - but they intend to couple that offense with intense defensive pressure.

With limited practice time and the WNBA's toughest schedule so far, the Fever have not been able to build the defense they strive to put on the floor. Thursday's game was one step closer to the gritty defensive attitude Indiana aims to produce.

"Reps overall are going to help us," Mitchell said. "Because the more we see it (defense) and kind of rep it out over time, over practice...I think the more we see it, I think we put ourselves in a position to kind of always be aggressive to the point where it's our DNA...It's our identity."

They'll look to build that identity through a stretch of home games that allow practice time and adjustment within schemes. Although they've played the WNBA's hardest schedule to this point in the season, the Fever's remaining schedule shifts to the league's third easiest. Their perseverance through the early season schedule earns Indiana more opportunities to grow as they look to capitalize on the additional time they have during the homestand.

The Fever will seek to extend their home win streak to three as they welcome the Chicago Sky back to Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Sunday in another opportunity to impose their will through post dominance and gritty defense.

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