Still trying to get in sync on both ends of the floor, the Indiana Fever look to get right Thursday against the last-place New York Liberty.
The Fever (3-5) held their own in the first half against Las Vegas on Tuesday, trailing 60-59 in the highest-scoring first half this year in the "wubble." But Indiana faded horribly down the stretch, scoring just seven fourth-quarter points and absorbing a 98-79 defeat.
Candice Dupree scored 20 points to pace Indiana, but she noted the team beat itself as much as Las Vegas did with its offensive execution.
"It's pretty frustrating," the forward told IndyStar. "For some reason we self destruct and this isn't the first game that we've done it. I don't know if we get tired. I didn't feel like it was their defensive pressure.
"We just go away for what works for us in the first half, and we have to stop doing that because it puts us in a major hole where we're down by 20 points."
Injuries have plagued Indiana most of its time while in Florida, and it was a factor in the loss to Las Vegas. Though forward Natalie Achonwa returned from a four-game absence due to a hamstring injury, coach Marianne Stanley limited her minutes.
That issue was compounded when Victoria Vivians left the game in the first half with a knee injury and did not return ' which contributed to the Fever giving up 62 points in the paint. If there was a bright spot for Indiana, it was the play of rookie Lauren Cox, who had seven points off the bench.
Cox, the third overall pick in the draft, missed the first four games recovering from COVID-19 and clearing the league's protocols.
New York (1-7) is looking to avoid losing a third straight contest since knocking off defending champion Washington last Friday, and a slow start consigned the Liberty to a 93-78 loss to Los Angeles on Tuesday.
Rookie Jazmine Jones scored a season-high 24 points, but the Liberty were down 15-2 in the first 4:28 of the contest and allowed the Sparks to hit six 3-pointers in the opening quarter. As is the case with a young team, first-year coach Walter Hopkins is looking to highlight the positives ' and he found one with his team not checking out after the disastrous first 10 minutes.
"It would have been easy for them to lie down and let this be a 30-point game," he said, "and they just refused to let that happen. I'm proud of them for showing how tough they are."
Defense continues to be a sore point for New York, which has yielded 85 or more points in six of eight games and has held only one opponent under 70 thus far.
Indiana won three of the four games between the teams in 2019, including an 86-81 victory in the most recent matchup as Kelsey Mitchell scored 22 points. That game, though, also clinched the No. 1 pick for the Liberty, who selected Sabrina Ionescu ' who continues to be sidelined with a sprained ankle.