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Fever seek more from defense vs. balanced Sun

Sportsnaut
Sep 29, 2020; Bradenton, Florida, USA; Connecticut Sun forward DeWanna Bonner (24) dribbles during game 5 of the WNBA semifinals between the Connecticut Suns and the Las Vegas Aces at IMG Academy. Mandatory Credit: Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Mary Holt-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana Fever coach Marianne Stanley didn’t mince words when asked to assess Tuesday night’s 101-79 loss to the Atlanta Dream.

“How we played, I’m not happy with at all,” Stanley said. “The effort just wasn’t there and I told our players as much. We have to bring more energy, more effort, more cohesiveness as a team. We rolled over, to be honest.”

A similar performance Friday night when Indiana visits the Connecticut Sun for a game in Uncasville, Conn., could bring a parallel result.

Connecticut (2-1) is coming off a 92-65 rout of the New York Liberty Tuesday night in Brooklyn that saw it force 32 turnovers, one shy of the WNBA record for a single game.

Turnovers weren’t the problem for the Fever (2-4) on Tuesday. They committed just 12 and also earned a 36-35 edge on the boards. But they did nothing else well, particularly on the defensive end.

Indiana allowed Atlanta to can 54 percent of its field goals, including 10 of 22 3-pointers, and made only 30 of 80 shots from the field.

“Our defense is terrible right now,” guard Victoria Vivians said. “I feel like we have to be better as a team playing defense. It was just one-on-one basketball and didn’t look good for us.”

And the Fever didn’t get much out of their leading scorer, guard Kelsey Mitchell. She came into the game averaging 22 points, but managed just five on 2-of-8 shooting.

Meanwhile, the Sun cruised in Brooklyn, erupting for 33 second-quarter points to turn the game into a laugher. DeWanna Bonner returned from her overseas season and didn’t miss a beat in her first WNBA game of the year, tallying 16 points to lead five players in double figures.

“We didn’t need to have anybody score 20 points and we won,” Bonner told reporters. “That’s the type of team we need to be. … We have a lot to prove.”

Bonner also collected four of Connecticut’s 16 steals. Natasha Hiedeman and Brionna Jones combined for 29 points off the bench.

This is the first of a home-and-home set between the teams. They’ll finish up Sunday in Indianapolis.

–Field Level Media