ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) The Indiana Fever had trouble getting to Chicago. However, once they overcame their travel woes, they took care of the Sky.
The Fever were stranded for about 10 hours on Wednesday at the airport in Hartford, Connecticut, after their flight to Chicago was canceled. The team rented four sports utility vehicles and flew out of Providence, Rhode Island, on Thursday.
One day later, the players took care of business.
Karima Christmas scored 14 points to lead a balanced offense as the Fever beat the Chicago Sky 83-75 on Friday night.
Natasha Howard, Erlana Larkins and Shavonte Zellous added 13 points each for Indiana (6-5). Marissa Coleman scored 12 points.
”We could have given up anytime, but we had a great bonding moment,” Zellous said.
Epiphanny Prince had 18 points and Jessica Breland scored 16 for the Sky (6-6), who have lost five of six.
”We didn’t deserve to win, so we didn’t,” Sky coach Pokey Chatman said.
Both teams were without star players. Sky leading scorer Elena Delle Donne missed her fourth straight game due to a Lyme disease flare up. Also, Chicago’s Sylvia Fowles (hip) and Indiana’s Tamika Catchings (back) have yet to play this season.
Breland hit a jumper to cut Indiana’s lead to 75-73 with 1:05 left.
Larkins answered with a layup to extend the Fever’s lead to four with 41.3 seconds remaining. After a Chicago turnover, Zellous made a driving layup with 29 seconds left.
Prince responded with a jumper to make it a four-point game again 6 seconds later.
However, the Fever made four free throws in the final 22 seconds to seal it.
”Toward the end, we really pulled it together,” Zellous said. ”We were determined to play defense and not allow them do what they were doing in the first half.”
The Fever finished 28 for 35 from the free-throw line. They shot 41.5 percent from the field to the Sky’s 49.3 percent. Chicago, which led by 10 points in the second quarter, was 7 of 16 on free throws.
Fever coach Lin Dunn liked how her team attacked and got to the line – and how the players handled their difficult road trip. The Fever outscored the Sky 25-16 in the final quarter after trailing 59-58.
”How you deal with adversity off the court can really influence how you handle it on the court,” Dunn said. ”Our players handled it as well as we could in that tough situation. We got tougher just dealing with our travel.”
The Fever also had a 36-26 advantage on rebounds.
”We can’t beat anybody with three offensive rebounds,” Chatman said.
Chicago rallied from 18 points down to beat Indiana 74-71 on May 16 in the season opener.
”We gave away the last one when we came here, so we had the mindset, `Let’s get this one and let’s not give it away if it comes down to the wire like last time,”’ Larkins said. ”We executed, made free throws when we needed to and held on.”