Arlington, TX — In a game where both teams were missing a key asset in their starting lineup, the team that played within their bench and dug deep was going to win.
The Indiana Fever came out strong with a defensive presence that was felt early in the first, but Dallas’ determination to finish paired with multiple players stepping up to the plate superseded any of the Fever’s attempts.
The Wings finished the game with a 27-point lead over the Fever, 89-62.
Dallas showed a concentrated effort to push the tempo of their offensive game and it paid off in dividends for the home team. They shot an impressive 57 percent from the field in the first half, creating a lofty lead heading into the second 20 minutes of play. The team kept the lead throughout the game as the bench proved themselves through the 40 minutes of action.
“I thought Dallas set the tone early, got really comfortable. We’d talked about the last couple of days, the ability to get out in transition, get to slow them down, and we didn’t do a very good job of that,” Indiana Fever coach Pokey Chatman said.
Leading the way was Karima Christmas-Kelly, who stole the show by scoring 19 in the first half. The newlywed led Dallas’ momentum with her energy and hustle plays throughout the entire game, breaking her career-high with three minutes to go in the third quarter. She finished with 27.
“Everyone contributed, especially in front of our fans. We are happy with the win obviously. Karima is the gas that runs our car,” Dallas Wings star Skylar Diggins-Smith said. “Being with her for three years and seeing her growth and how much she can dominate in this league, I am happy she is on our team and we aren’t playing against her.”
“I just felt pretty good today,” Christmas-Kelly humbly stated. “I was feeding off my teammates and trying to bring energy.”
Momentum from Glory Johnson grabbing her 1,000th rebound in the third quarter pushed the team to continue playing hard and aggressive, as the Wings finished outrebounding the Fever 42-30 and outscoring Indiana 44-22 in points in the paint.
Rookie Allisha Gray continued to prove herself at the pro level by also contributing to Dallas’ big lead, landing in double digits at 14 to finish the matchup. Paired with Diggins-Smith’s 12 and Kayla Thornton’s 12, the Wings were unstoppable offensively.
The Fever made a strong effort to reduce the Wings’ large lead in the third period, outscoring Dallas 21-20. Although, this was the only quarter that Indiana outscored the Wings and with the large deficit created in the first half, the Fever’s effort was not enough to stop Dallas.
Zero of Indiana’s starters made it to double figures, with forward Natalie Achonwa leading the Fever with 13.
“Dallas came out ready to play. They played really hard, they’ve got a young group that likes to run up and down the floor. I just don’t think we gave the necessary effort to pull out the win,” Indiana Fever forward Candice Dupree said.
The Wings only allowed seven second-chance points throughout the matchup and their relentless effort to push the ball proved to be successful as they had 22 fast-break points. With this kind of effort from the Wings, the fourth quarter proved to be too much for the Fever as help was too little too late.
However, Indiana will have the opportunity to even the score as Dallas travels to their home court on Saturday, June 3rd.