May 30, 2021 

‘We just didn’t show up to play’: Fever open road trip with blowout loss to Aces

What Marianne Stanley, Teaira McCowan and Tiffany Mitchell said after the humbling defeat

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PALMETTO, FL – SEPTEMBER 8: Kayla McBride #21 of the Las Vegas Aces drives to the basket against the Indiana Fever on September 8, 2020 at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida. Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

Although the Indiana Fever had entered Friday’s game against Las Vegas just 1-5, Marianne Stanley repeatedly stressed that her team was close to breaking through, and simply needed to work on “the controllables.”

After a 36-point beatdown at the hands of the Aces on Friday, Stanley changed her tone, seemingly at a loss for words during her postgame press conference.

“I can’t think of a facet of the game that we were good in,” Stanley added. “Very, very, very disappointing.”

To Stanley’s point, the Fever were severely outplayed in nearly every statistical category of Friday’s 113-77 rout. They lost the turnover battle 20-8, were outshot from the field 55% to 39% and committed 28 fouls to Las Vegas’ 16. Their only lead was 2-0 — just 35 seconds into the game.

“I don’t have an explanation for why we were so soft, not just in the post but just in general,” said Stanley. “Turning the ball over, fouling people, it seemed like almost every other time down the floor we fouled somebody. Just totally unacceptable.”

Indiana started poorly from the jump, falling behind 10-2 by the 5:48 mark of the first quarter and trailing by as much as 26 in the first half. Although the Fever trimmed the deficit to 10 in the second quarter — in which they scored 34 points, the fifth-most in franchise history — they wouldn’t get any closer the rest of the way.

“I think everyone wasn’t ready to go from the tip,” said Teaira McCowan, who recorded her third double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

“We can’t have a bad first quarter then try to piece it together in the second, then coming out lacking in the third and try to pick it up in the fourth. It’s too much up and down.”

Indiana had consistent lapses on the defensive end, whether it was failing to get back in transition and allowing uncontested fast-break layups, or failing to fight over screens against shooters such as Chelsea Gray or Riquna Williams. The Fever allowed six Aces to score in double figures, led by Dearica Hamby’s 25 and A’ja Wilson’s 23.

On the other end, Williams held Kelsey Mitchell, who scored just 13 points on 4-for-16 shooting, in check. Mitchell struggled to get in a rhythm the whole game, particularly on drives to the basket when she was met by Wilson and Liz Cambage in the paint.

“This is a very physical team,” said Stanley. “They’re not the type of team that you can shy away from or back down from, just the opposite. We just didn’t bring any level of aggressiveness, for the most part.”

One of the only bright spots for Indiana was the performance of Tiffany Mitchell, who scored a season-high 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting. She went 2-for-2 from three-point range after beginning the season just 1-for-9, appearing significantly more confident in her stroke.

After the game, Mitchell hardly cared about her individual numbers, instead offering an honest take of the team’s collective performance.

“I think it’s hard to find a lot of positives out of this game,” Mitchell said. “I just think we didn’t show up, so hopefully we have a better showing on Sunday.”

The Fever now sit at a disheartening 1-6, second to last in the WNBA standings. Last Sunday’s win against the Washington Mystics, which intersected with former Tamika Catchings’ emotional banner-raising ceremony, seems like a distant memory after a Tuesday’s rematch loss to the Mystics and Friday’s blowout in Las Vegas.

The schedule doesn’t get any easier, either. Friday’s game was the first of five road contests, with daunting matchups against the Aces again, Seattle Storm, Los Angeles Sparks and Chicago Sky to come.

Though players were visibly disheartened after the game, Tiffany Mitchell admitted that she’s happy for a quick turnaround after such a letdown. The Fever’s rematch against the Aces is set for Sunday at 3 p.m. PDT, less than 42 hours after the conclusion of the previous game.

“Hopefully this lit a fire under us,” she said. “It’s not who we are as a team and we had a bad showing. Hopefully on Sunday, we don’t repeat what we just did.”

Written by Ben Rosof

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