Thursday 21st June, 2018
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Fever, Aces enter matchup with one combined win

Sports Xchange - Tuesday 12th June, 2018

If the Indiana Fever are going to break out of the winless skid that has defined them through the first quarter of the WNBA season, they won't likely get a better chance than Tuesday's home matchup at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis against the Las Vegas Aces.

Las Vegas has tasted victory only once this year and was the worst team in the league in 2017.

But that one win is one better than the Fever, who have lost eight straight games to begin the season for the first time in franchise history.

Indiana fell to 0-8 with a 78-75 loss at New York on Sunday in a game featured 18 lead changes. Neither team led by more than four through the first half.

The Fever couldn't hold a late lead, with former Indiana stalwart Marissa Coleman ending the Fever's chances with a 3-pointer with 16 seconds to play.

Coleman's final 3-pointer was New York's 13th made shot from beyond the arc in the game, the most ever against Indiana.

Indiana got a game-high 19 points from Kelsey Mitchell, and Tiffany Mitchell scored 14 points for the Fever, reaching double figures for the seventh time in eight games. Victoria Vivians added 11 points and Natalie Achonwa contributed 10 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.

"We know that we are right there," said Achonwa, who registered the second double-double of her career to help Indiana to a 31-22 rebounding edge. "We know we need one more stop; one more shot; one more rebound; one more deflection; one fewer turnover. Everybody needs to improve just one percent more."

This will be Indiana's first meeting with the team from Las Vegas (1-7), which recently relocated to the Nevada desert after being founded in and playing for 15 years in San Antonio.

The Aces head to Indiana on the heels of a 72-66 loss at Phoenix on Sunday. Las Vegas whittled a 15-point Mercury lead to four with 3:17 to go but scored on just one of its remaining five possessions.

"Our defensive effort was better; we got mentally engaged," Aces coach Bill Laimbeer said. "When we really get that edge, we are a decent basketball team. We just have to do that for 40 minutes.

"We kept Phoenix on the perimeter and made them take some long shots, and that likely tired them out and helped us get back in the game."

Las Vegas got 17 points from A'ja Wilson, 16 from Kayla McBride and 12 from Kelsey Plum in the loss.

"But overall we have to put the ball in the basket, too, and we didn't do that (against Phoenix)," Laimbeer said. "To be a good basketball team, you have to do all the little things -- and some of those are shooting and rebounding."

As the WNBA's 11th-place team last season, Indiana was swept by the 12th-place Stars (now Aces), losing the three meetings in 2017 by an average of 11.7 points per game.

Through eight games, No. 1 overall pick and Aces center Wilson and No. 2 pick and Fever guard Mitchell are poised to race each other for the Rookie of the Year award. They are the top scoring rookies in the league, with Wilson sixth at 20.4 points per game and Mitchell ninth at 19.4 ppg.

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