Delle Donne scores 24 points and Sky dominates Fever 98-72
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Elena Delle Donne scored 24 points — her lowest output of the season — with nine rebounds and the Chicago Sky dominated the Indiana Fever 98-72 on Sunday.
Delle Donne’s first 3-pointer put Chicago (2-2) up 9-2 and the Sky never trailed. She was 10 of 11 from the line. Cappie Pondexter scored 15 points, Courntey Vandersloot had 14 and Clarissa Dos Santos added 12. Betnijah Laney and Jamierra Faulkner had 11 and 10, respectively.
The Sky held a 19-rebound advantage, had seven steals and 10 blocked shots, limiting Indiana to 31 percent shooting for the game and just 5 of 25 from the 3-point line.
“Our offense really flows when our defense is picked up,” said Delle Donne. “We knew how important a good defensive effort was going to be tonight, because then we’re able get out in transition. That’s when we’re at our best.”
The Fever was paced by Marissa Coleman with 16 points. Natalie Achonwa had 12 and Maggie Lucas added 10 points. Indiana forward Tamika Catchings served a one-game suspension by the league for making contact with a game official in Friday’s win over Phoenix.
Catchings was on hand before the game to help honor Lauren Hill, who died from brain cancer on April 10 at the age of 19. She had an inspirational several months in which she lived her dream of playing college basketball for Mount St. Joseph, a Division III school.
At the time of her death, Hill’s work had raised $1.4 million for pediatric cancer research, according to the non-profit group The Cure Starts Now. The Fever donated $300 to the charity for each layup made by both teams during Sunday’s game — a total of $9,600, a Fever spokesman said.
An Indiana jersey with Hill’s name and the number 22 — her number at Mount St. Joseph — was laid over a chair on the Fever bench during the game.
Indiana (1-4) trailed 53-21 at the half. The Fever was just 6 of 35 from the floor in the first half and 1 of 12 on 3-pointers. They went more than 10 minutes between the second and third quarters without scoring.
Delle Donne contributed seven points in the first five minutes of the game and the Sky shot 65 percent while limiting Indiana to just 12 points in the first ten minutes of action.
“The mindset was getting off to a really great start,” said Chicago coach Pokey Chatman. “We’ve kind of struggled (previously) in the first quarter. That’s when you should be the most ready. And I think as a group, they got together and made sure they were ready from the beginning and that resulted in a 9-2 start. So that gave us early momentum and we were able to maintain it throughout the game.”
The Sky outrebounded the Fever, 46-27, Indiana’s second-largest rebounding deficit in franchise history and the 32-point hole marked the largest halftime deficit the Fever have held at home in franchise history.
Chatman was impressed with his team’s defensive effort, especially its boardwork.
“We were really active and sticking to the schemes,” he said. “But the best part about it was we kind of married that to rebounding. Sometimes you play good defense and somebody will sneak in there for and a rebound, so we get the rebound and it got us out in transition and got some easy buckets.”
Fever coach Stephanie White had trouble taking anything positive out of the game.
“It was an embarrassment,” White said. “We didn’t play with pride and that’s not acceptable. We were lackluster from the start. Fortunately we came out harder to start the third quarter, but you can’t do that in this league — you can’t choose when to play hard and when not to.”
Pondexter, Chicago’s veteran guard, moved up to the No. 11 spot on the league’s career assists list, passing Katie Smith with her second assist. Pondexter finished the game with four assists and a career total of 1,260 assists.