Phoenix All-Stars DeWanna Bonner and Brittney Griner combined for 51 points on 20-of-38 shooting, dished nine assists and grabbed 12 rebounds. Bonner, Griner and Indiana’s Kelsey Mitchell all scored at least 25 points in the game.
Phoenix shot 45.9 percent from the field and knocked down nine of its 18 3-point attempts. Indiana shot 44.4 percent and went 10-of-16 from behind the arc.
The Mercury turned 11 Fever turnovers into 16 points while committing only six turnovers.
Phoenix assisted on 26 of its 34 made field goals, a new season high. Five different Mercury players ended with at least four assists.
Phoenix scored 19 of the game’s first 28 points, including an 8-1 run, and led 22-12 at the end of the first quarter. Brittney Griner and DeWanna Bonner accounted for 17 of those 19 points.
The Mercury closed the first half on a 13-2 run, extending their 14-point advantage to 25. The Mercury’s eventual 28-point lead was Indiana’s largest deficit of the season.
Indiana shaved the different to just seven, however, late in the fourth. Trailing by 27 less than a minute into the fourth quarter, the Fever scored 15 of the next 16 points to cut the deficit to 13 with 4:58 remaining.
Kelsey Mitchell went 4-of-8 from 3-point range, marking the second time in three games she made four or more 3-pointers. Mitchell tied career highs with 26 points and six assists.
Indiana set a new season-high with 10 3-pointers, matching its highest total from last season (Aug. 11 at Las Vegas). Kelsey Mitchell and Kennedy Burke accounted for eight of them.
Erica Wheeler added five assists of her own, registering at least five in all five of the Fever’s games this season.
Candice Dupree knocked down two free throws midway through the third quarter, giving her 1,083 made free throws in her career. Dupree now ranks 15th in WNBA history in made free throws, passing Mercury assistant coach Penny Taylor (1,082).
Fever rookie Kennedy Burke connected on seven of her eight shots and set a new season-high with 18 points. Burke made all four of her 3-point attempts.
Burke and Tiffany Mitchell combined for 35 points off Indiana’s bench with Mitchell scoring 14 in the fourth quarter. It was the third time in the team’s five games two reserves finished in double-figures.
The Fever scored 59 points in the second half, the most by any team in any half in the WNBA this season. Kelsey Mitchell scored 22 of her 26 points after halftime.
Indiana has three wins in its first five games for the first time since 2012 when the team went on to win the WNBA championship.
The loss gives Indiana a 2-1 record at home in 2019. It went 2-15 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse last season.
After scoring 56 points in their loss to the Lynx on Thursday, the Mercury exploded for 53 in the first half against the Fever. It was the second-highest total for a first half in the WNBA this season.
Brittney Griner posted new season-highs with 26 points and five assists. Griner finished the game 11-of-21 from the field.
The Mercury have won their last five games against the Fever inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana now leads the all-time series 21-18.
In her second game of the season, Leilani Mitchell hit four 3-pointers and scored 17 points in 26 minutes. Mitchell also led the Mercury with six assists.
The Mercury’s 25-point lead (53-28) this evening against the Fever marked the fifth largest halftime by the Mercury in franchise history.
DeWanna Bonner scored 25 points and grabbed seven rebounds in tonight’s win. Bonner notched 10+ points for the 18th consecutive game, which is the fourth-longest current streak in the WNBA.
DeWanna Bonner finished 5-of-5 from the free throw line this evening and is now a league-best 20-for-20 from the charity stripe on the season. Dating back to last season, she’s made 30 consecutive free throws in the regular season.
Entering tonight’s game as the WNBA’s leader in three-point percentage this season, Briann January finished 2-of-4 from behind the arc this evening en route to 14 points. She added four rebounds and four assists.
Head Coach Pokey Chatman
“One interesting thing that’s true about this league – you don’t have much time to get too excited about things, or to get pissed off. It just moves too fast, so we’re already on to Seattle on Tuesday. You know, I talk a lot about ‘cutting off the head of the snake.’ They [Griner and Bonner] got 51 on us. That hurt.”
(on falling behind early)
“I think we let a couple of turnovers, miscues and missed shots bother us. I haven’t seen that happen to us this year. And while that was happening, Phoenix was punishing us.”
(on Teaira McCowan learning against Brittney Griner)
“First of all, yes, size does matter. I think she learned she can positively affect this team and this league. Look, Griner had some frustration when she came in the league a few years ago. She obviously figured it out and I know ‘T’ will too.”
(on the play of Kennedy Burke)
“She’s what the league is becoming – long, athletic, fast, quick. She can score inside the arc and outside the arc. I’m excited she was available to us and she makes us a better basketball team.”
(On catching fire in the fourth quarter giving them momentum for the next game)
“We just know what we’re capable of. We know we have to push in transition and defend, so we didn’t do that early on. Coming off the bench, we have to know what we need to do to adjust. I think we just kept our foot on the pressure, pressuring them even though we knew we were down big.”
“We know the heads of the snake on this team are DeWanna [Bonner] and Brittney [Griner] and we let them get going early, so if we had some stops on them pretty early on, it would have given us confidence offensively. That’s basically the name of the game. We stopped those two and make the other people on their team score, it’s hard for them to win.”
(On the comeback in fourth quarter)
“It was good. Our first unit is always our pick-me-up, so we look to them for everything, no matter what the circumstance. I feel like the second group just came and kind of just tried to pick up where the first group usually leaves off. Take what we saw and compete for 40 minutes.”
(Was the team frustrated in the first half?)
“That’s exactly what it was. A little bit of frustration. Just defensively it wasn’t there, but I think we picked it up. Hopefully we take this experience and kind of learn from it.”
Head Coach Sandy Brondello
(On their bigs)
“B.G. [Brittney Griner], she didn’t have her typical game against Minnesota. They did a good job so it was good to establish her and for her to get some success there. But that was the difference, to get her going early in the game and that kind of got us the separation. Credit to Indiana, we relaxed a little too much and they put the pedal to the metal and finished strong.”
(On DeWanna Bonner)
“Fantastic. She’s been great for us all season long. I mean, she’s versatile. She can play the four and the three. If she wants it, she can do whatever she wants to do. Like I said, we got that two-punch and we were missing that third punch, Diana Taurasi. But it was great for us to have contributions, Bri [Briann] January stepping up and Leilani Mitchell. So we can’t rely on just two people so we need everyone to make us be successful and those two stepped up.”
“Great win for us. We came off a loss against Minnesota, a tough one, so the way we responded was the way that we know we need to play every game. It was a good win. Everybody got to play so we needed that because it’s a long season. I’m so proud of my team.”
(On the difference between the first and second half)
“I think we came out really aggressive. In the second half, [Indiana] did. They kind of took us out of every we did. But I’m proud of my team for taking a punch. We kept with it. We made key baskets when we needed to. Credit to both teams. Good game.”
“Just proud of our team. We played in Minnesota. We didn’t go out for 40 minutes and play like we knew how and tonight responded well. We had everybody step up tonight and played a great game. Just proud of us, how we bounced back and responded, especially on the road. Road trips are tough and you’re not at home, you can’t really get that energy back. It’s hard to come together but we came together and we got it done.”
(On returning to Indiana)
“It was nice to be recognized today. We had some special moments while I was here and never forget that. It’s just wonderful, coming back all the time. And every time I come back it’s just so much love. And this is my home. Wherever I go, Indy will be home. It’s such a warm welcome every time I come back and the fans are still supporting, so it’s lovely to see that.”
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