Kelsey Mitchell's WNBA-Record Nine 3-Pointers and Franchise-Record 38 Points Lead Indiana to Rousing 104-76 Win in Season Finale
INDIANAPOLIS - Kelsey Mitchell broke a WNBA record with nine 3-pointers and set a franchise record with 38 points on Sunday afternoon to pace the Indiana Fever to a 104-76 victory over the Connecticut Sun, on the final day of the regular season.
Mitchell scored early and often, starting for the first time in 15 games and tying a WNBA record with seven 3-pointers in the first half. In fact, she tied the franchise record for 3-pointers made in a single game during the first half, alone, and her 30 points by halftime were already a career scoring high.
Mitchell's scoring placed an accent on Indiana's biggest win of the season and its highest scoring effort in regulation since 2015.
While second-place Connecticut (23-12) rested starters in the second half in preparation for its upcoming playoff schedule, Indiana (13-21) attacked the Sun from start to finish in what was its final game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse for a couple of seasons. Due to scheduled renovation, the Fever will temporarily move its home games to storied Hinkle Fieldhouse beginning in 2020.
The Fever delighted its crowd by leaping to a 23-20 lead after one quarter and a 48-39 advantage at intermission on the strength of Mitchell's performance beyond the arc. Mitchell opened the contest shooting 6-of-7 overall and 4-of-5 from long distance, finishing the opening quarter with 16 points to tie another franchise record.
Ten minutes later, she had collected another 14 points in the second quarter with another three treys. She sat one 3-point basket shy of the WNBA single-game mark while leaving the court at halftime.
Indiana kept its foot on the gas pedal in the second half with rookie center Teaira McCowan returning from early foul trouble. McCowan played all but 30 seconds in the third period and finished with 10 points in the quarter as the Fever raised its lead to double digits. In the fourth, point guard Erica Wheeler was perfect on three 3-point attempts while Mitchell added her record-breaking pair.
In all, Indiana's 15 3-pointers tied a club record, with Wheeler adding four and Kennedy Burke two. The Fever shot 57.7 percent beyond the arc and their 58.5 percent shooting overall put an exclamation point on the best percentage in team history.
Lost in the hot shooting excitement was still another franchise record broken on the final day of the season as McCowan's nine rebounds pushed her past Erlana Larkins' 2014 Fever-record record of 303 rebounds. McCowan finished her rookie campaign with 304 rebounds, the sixth highest by a rookie in league history.
With Connecticut keying on McCowan early, and McCowan's strong play after halftime, it opened the door for the Fever's perimeter stars.
"Teams have to adjust to Teaira and, obviously, when that happens, it opens possibilities for her teammates," said Fever coach Pokey Chatman who saw her team finish 7-6 after the All-Star Break. "She is a phenomenal young player who just continues to get better and better."
On Mitchell and her progression, Chatman added, "She's capable of doing what she did tonight, but what I liked seeing was that she's starting now to score off screens and other movement, in addition to creating shots off her own dribble. She's learning. She's learning the playbook of the WNBA, and what I mean by that is not the Fever playbook. She knows that part. But she's learning how to work around her opponents and she's learning how to be effective on the defensive side of the ball. She's always going to be an offensive threat."
For the Sun, Brionna Jones scored a career-high 14 points off the bench and matched a career best with 10 rebounds. It was her first double-double of the season. Jonquel Jones pitched in 12 points for Connecticut.
The Fever turned 14 Connecticut turnovers into 26 points and kept the Sun from thoughts of a comeback with their sharpshooting and ball movement. Among Indiana's 26 assists on 38 made baskets were a career-high seven from Betnijah Laney, who also had two steals.
Joining Mitchell in the Indiana scoring parade were McCowan who shot 7-of-9 from the floor to finish with 17 points, and Wheeler who stuffed the box score with 14 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals. Burke and Candice Dupree each added 10 points for Indiana.
Dupree finished her 14th WNBA season tied with Katie Smith as the fifth-leading scorer in league history with 6,452 points. She ended the season with an 11.6-point average to join Tamika Catchings (15 seasons) and Tina Thompson (14) as the only players in WNBA history to average double-figure scoring through at least 14 consecutive seasons.
Head Coach Pokey Chatman
(on Kelsey Mitchell)
"She's capable of doing what she did tonight, but what I liked seeing was that she's starting now to score off screens and other movement, in addition to creating shots off her own dribble. She's learning. She's learning the playbook of the WNBA, and what I mean by that is not the Fever playbook. She knows that part. But she's learning how to work around her opponents and she's learning how to be effective on the defensive side of the ball. She's always going to be an offensive threat."
(on Teaira McCowan)
"She scores in ways that are different than the rest of the WNBA. Teams have to adjust to her and, obviously, when that happens, it opens possibilities for her teammates. She is a phenomenal young player who just continues to get better and better."
(on growth of team)
"I think the growth of our individual players is really important to this franchise, and we're seeing it. You saw it up close tonight with two really young stars that will continue to get better. It was real important for us to finish above .500 (7-6) after the All-Star Break. This is a championship organization and I feel real good about moving in the right direction.
(on what got her going in the first half)
"Nothing really. I just felt like it's any other game. Obviously, I'm a competitor. So, my goal is always to try to win and put my team in a position to win. Like it said, I just try to play my role and play my role as best as possible."
(how were you able to fight through injury)
"Honestly, I know we didn't make the playoffs, but I try to play every game like it's my last. I'm pretty sure my team does. That's their mentality too. I just try to play. I mean it's that simple. I know that it was different for Tiff (Tiffany Mitchell) not playing (due to concussion). So, I know I had to do a lot of 'pick me up' because she plays at a high level when she starts. It was just my mindset. And knowing that it's Connecticut and their the number one or number two team in the league just goes to show that you have to compete and that's all I wanted to do."
(on the team's intensity)
"We came out a little slow at first. You know we were kind of playing, just basically playing. But then we picked it up, we turned the page and we just started getting stops. And then Kelsey (Mitchell) got hot and we just kind of fed off her. It was great, tonight."
(on the goals for next year with this young team)
"We just need to keep getting better each and every game, each and every day. Just try go out and be better than we have the last two seasons. I think once we put the pieces together and everyone plays their part and we get off to a good solid start, and then play like that for 40 minutes, I think this program is really going to change."
Head Coach Curt Miller
"Indiana was great. Our only goal tonight was to get out injury free, to be ready for the semis. We've talked about doing things that we do well. Didn't think we did some of those things. But hats off to them. Obviously, they're playing for a different reason than we're playing. And ultimately the only thing that matters for us tonight was to get out injury free and we did. So, know we're in the semis."
"I think we came out with good energy. I think Kelsey (Mitchell) played an awesome game. She was just on fire. And so it was tough, but ultimately I think we came out kind of being a little more conservative with everything that's coming up too, with this game not really changing our standings whether we win or lose. So I think that's what it was too. That's just being a little more conservative."
"I think just for us personally we were just going into this game working on ourselves. Just trying to get better at things that we do offensively and defensively. And I think we did a good job executing when we needed to. And they played a tough game, they hit big shots. Kelsey Mitchell played great. And I think just moving forward into the playoffs we're just going to have to lock in on everything that we do."
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Women's National Basketball Association Stories from September 8, 2019
- Kelsey Mitchell's WNBA-Record Nine 3-Pointers and Franchise-Record 38 Points Lead Indiana to Rousing 104-76 Win in Season Finale - Indiana Fever
- Aces Secure Four Seed with 98-89 Win over Mercury - Las Vegas Aces
- Sparks Win 14th Straight at Staples Center to Close out Regular Season - Los Angeles Sparks
- Minnesota/Los Angeles Postgame Notes - Minnesota Lynx
- Mercury Headed to Chicago for Round 1 of WNBA Playoffs - Phoenix Mercury
- Minnesota Lynx Announce Multi-Year Contract Extension with Sylvia Fowles - Minnesota Lynx
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