Late Free Throws Lead Seattle Past Fever 84-82
Jewell Lloyd made a pair of free throws after a foul call that was reviewed by officials with 24 seconds left to give Seattle an 83-82 lead. The second free throw turned out to be the game-winner. She tacked on another free throw with nine seconds remaining for the final margin.
Lloyd and Natasha Howard combined for 44 points in the win. Mercedes Russell was the only other player to reach double-figures for Seattle.
The Fever got 28 points off their bench, outscoring the Storm's reserves by 11. Tiffany Mitchell and Kennedy Burke accounted for 26 of those 28 points.
Seattle went to the free throw line 16 times and made 15 of them. Indiana attempted nine free throws, five of which came from reserves. The Fever went 8-of-9 from the charity stripe.
After Indiana cut the Seattle lead to just one in the fourth period, Seattle scored 11 of the next 16 points. Indiana answered with a 10-2 run of its own to take an 82-81 lead with 29 seconds remaining.
Starting with Kelsey Mitchell's 3-pointer to beat the buzzer at the end of the third quarter, the Fever used its transition game to fuel an 11-3 spurt to cut a nine-point deficit to one. Indiana scored 20 fast break points while limiting Seattle to just six. The Fever had seven fast break points in the both the second and third quarters.
Trailing 6-2 early in the game, Seattle scored seven straight points to take a 9-6 lead. The Storm were up 24-17 at the end of the first quarter.
Kelsey Mitchell finished with seven assists, setting a new career high. Mitchell's dished 13 assists in her last two contests.
Mitchell went 8-of-19 from the field and led the Fever with 21 points. It is the third time in four games Mitchell reached the 20-point mark.
Candice Dupree posted her second double-double in the last three games and now has 68 in her career. Dupree finished with 10 points and 15 rebounds. The 15 boards are the highest total of Dupree's Fever career.
Five different Fever players reached double-figures. Indiana has seven players averaging at least 10 points per game.
Rookie Kennedy Burke reached double-figures for the second game in a row. Burke followed an 18-point performance against Phoenix on Sunday with 14 points against Seattle.
The Fever are 2-2 in their first four home games this season. They recorded two victories at home all last season.
Indiana is .500 or better through six games for the first time since 2016, the last season the team reached the playoffs.
Natasha Howard led all scorers and posted a career-high 26 points on 9-of-17 shooting. Howard has scored at least 12 points in every game this season.
Midway through the second quarter, Mercedes Russell set a new career-high with her 11th point of the game. Russell finished with 13 points and a season-high eight rebounds.
The Storm knocked down five of their nine 3-point attempts. It was only the second time this season Seattle shot better than 32 percent from deep.
The Storm's win over the Fever was their fourth in a row. Seattle has taken five of the last six meetings between the teams and leads the all-time series 21-19.
Sami Whitcomb set a new career-high with six assists. Her previous career-best was four against Dallas on Aug. 19, 2018.
Head Coach Pokey Chatman
"A lot of times, in a one-possession game, people talk about late free throws or a last possession. But as a coach, and tonight just like I told the players, I need to talk about the first 5-6 possessions of the third quarter. We took some 3's and gambled a little bit and it gave some added momentum to Seattle."
(On play of Kennedy Burke):
"When you ask that question, I just close my eyes and envision a play that she made under the basket, playing defense straight up on an offensive player and swatting a shot. That's instinctive. It's athletic. It's a basketball play. She's long and she helps us on both ends of the floor. She's becoming a very valuable piece for us."
(On Kelsey Mitchell as a playmaker):
"You know, she scored a million points in college - and don't get me wrong, she can do that here, too - but she's so much more than that. She works hard and she continues improving. She's becoming a student of the game. She's going to continue to score, but when you look at her assists sometimes they're passing ahead, some come from reading the defense. She keeps getting better and that comes from her work."
(Did the Fever anticipate Natasha Howard being such dominant factor tonight?)
"Yeah. She's one of the heads of the snake. We know that she's really, really, dominant. We responded the best that we could, but it wasn't good enough. So I can really say she played her tail off today."
(How do you summarize the game?)
"It's tough. I mean, everything that did go wrong was something that we could control. Hopefully this game taught us that and in the future we'll be better."
(On Natasha Howard's game tonight)
"She's one of the heads of the snake. She just played extremely well. She does what she's good at. I think we could have kept the ball out of her hands a little more, made it a little more difficult for her to catch, crowd the paint a little bit more. Probably would have worked a little bit more in our favor. But it doesn't come down to one player. We let people affect the game that we shouldn't have. Mercedes Russell got a lot of offensive boards in the first half, was able to come out and make an impact. So we've gotta be able to limit that kind of stuff."
Acting Head Coach Gary Kloppenburg
"I just thought it was a really tough hard-fought game. That's a really good young team over there with some outstanding offensive weapons. And we were just trying to hang on there at the end for dear life. We got a couple stops late in the game that we needed to get with a little bit of a lead to hang on. Pokey [Chatman] does a really nice job. That's gonna be a very good team."
(Does it feel good to be back in the win column?)
"I mean, it's difficult. Anytime on the road in our league you get a win, they're difficult to come by. For the most part we played pretty well. You know we had a couple spurts that we didn't play well and really got them under control offensively. That's a good offensive team. We got 20 points off 14 turnovers and we got to the free throw line a little bit more than them. So really that's probably the difference, the free throws tonight. Everything else was pretty equal."
"We came out with our game plan like we were supposed to. It came down to the wire and we knew what Indiana wanted to do and we knew who they wanted to get the ball to so we stepped up to the plate and we did what we had to do at crunch time and just get rebounds."
(On first and second half)
"First half, we started off hungry. We started off throwing the first punch and our focus was getting rebounds and getting stops. That was what we were kind of struggling on, was rebounding and we picked that up. And in the second half, we kept our momentum still. And we just kept it going through the whole game. And we knew it was going to come down the wire with Indiana."
"I think it was a team win for sure. You know, it's very hard to win in this league and it's definitely hard to win on the road. So I think the last couple minutes we came down and executed on defense, which is a something that we're pretty proud of. Any time you get a win on the road it's always a plus."
(On the difference first and second half)
"Just our toughness, in general. Just making sure that we were executing down the stretch. They had a few big runs, and we kind of messed up on our matchups a little bit. But I expected it to be like this. This team doesn't give up. The Fever, they fight all the way through, so we knew that they were going to come back with a punch. But I think down the stretch we kind of came together and got big stops from Crystal Langhorne."
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Women's National Basketball Association Stories from June 11, 2019
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