Indianapolis, Indiana — It was all about the Fever tonight. Indiana flew out of the gates and never looked back. After dropping two disappointing home games — both of which by double digits — the Fever were vying for a comeback and the Liberty was their target.
With a new starting lineup, Indiana came out on Thursday, September 1st as a new team. Fever guard, Marissa Coleman, scored the first seven points of the game to get Indiana going. Coleman has been struggling this season to hit her shot, but tonight she was locked in.
Indiana guards Briann January and Erica Wheeler joined in shortly, helping the Fever pull away with a quick 11-point advantage.
From there, the Liberty was frazzled and began making mistakes. New York felt the absence of veteran center Kiah Stokes protecting the paint defensively. The Liberty turned the ball over on six possessions, while the Fever remained unblemished in the first quarter. The poised Indiana team led in the first quarter by as many as 24 points.
January hit a three to add to her 10 points in the quarter, as the last minute of the first quarter dwindled down. Indiana shot 85.7 percent from behind the arc, going 6-7 from the field. At the end of the quarter, the Fever sat comfortably with the score at 40-18. The 40-point performance set the new franchise record for the most points in a single quarter.
The first quarter performance was followed by another strong performance from the home team. Indiana was playing in sync, displaying strong ball movement – something they had lacked the previous two games. While New York, on the other hand, continued to struggle to find the basket.
Fever guard Shenise Johnson threw down 15 of her team-high 21 points in the first half and likewise, Coleman scored 15 of her 19 points in the first half to help Indiana remain on top, 63-38 heading into the locker rooms.
But after the first half, there was no cooling down Indiana. The Fever remained hot, but they weren’t the only one. Liberty center Tina Charles scored 15 of her 22 points in the second half. Charles was one of the only two Liberty players to score in double digits; guard Brittany Boyd was able to add 10 points for New York.
Indiana closed out the third quarter with a 15-3 run, and secured a 20-point lead. While the Liberty continued to battle until the end, the deficit was dug too deep too early. Indiana made this 98-77 victory look easy.
The Fever not only looked confident against the Liberty, but they were also playing confident and made every possession count. Indiana head coach Stephanie White has stressed the importance of attacking with the ball, and that’s just what her team did. It was a lot of catch-and-shoot plays, but setting the fast-paced tempo worked to the Fever’s advantage and helped them generate defensive plays, which gave Indiana extra possessions.
In a game of trading baskets, Indiana simply outshot New York. The Fever shot 45 percent from the field and 54 percent from the arc, compared to the Liberty, who shot 37 percent from the field and 36 percent from beyond.
New York will look forward to recovering from this loss as it hosts Phoenix on Saturday, September 3rd at 6 p.m. ET.
Indiana is hopeful to keep this momentum heading into its final stretch. The Fever will travel to Los Angeles to take on the Sparks on Sunday, September 4th at 7 p.m. ET.