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Notes & Quotes: Aces Beat Fever, 101-92 (OT)

KEY RUN:
• After trailing by as many as 13 points in the second half, the Fever scored the final eight points of regulation over the final 2:18 of the fourth quarter to force overtime. But Las Vegas rookie A’ja Wilson scored 10 of her game-high 35 points in the extra period to help the Aces earn a 101-92 win over Indiana.

KEY STAT:
• In each of the last four games, the young Fever squad has lost despite holding the lead or tied with its opponent in the final minute of the fourth quarter. Two of those losses have come in overtime.

INDIANA NOTES:
• Fever center Natalie Achonwa posted career highs with 26 points and 15 rebounds to lead Indiana. She posted her second straight double-double and third overall this season. Entering this season, she had not pulled down more than nine rebounds in a game over her first three WNBA seasons.
• Achonwa’s 26 points tied Kelsey Mitchell (twice) as Indiana’s highest scoring total this season, while her 15 rebounds is the most by any Fever player since 2016.
• Kelsey Mitchell finished with 17 points and shot 5-for-12 from the field and 4-for-9 from 3-point range. She has now made at least three 3-point field goals in five straight games and has connected on 30 for the season.
• After missing the last two games due to a left knee injury, Candice Dupree returned to the court tonight and finished with 16 points on 8-for-13 shooting. Her jumper with 26.6 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter tied the score at 84-84 and forced the overtime period.
• Tiffany Mitchell set a new season high with 17 points and handed out six assists in 44 minutes. She has now scored in double figures in four straight games and seven times overall this season.
• Erica Wheeler came off the bench for the first time this season and finished with 12 points and a team-leading eight assists. Wheeler is now fifth in the WNBA this season with 4.6 assists per game.

LAS VEGAS NOTES:
• The Aces improved their record to 2-7 on the season while earning their first road win of the year.
• Wilson’s 35 points and 13 rebounds marked season highs for the rookie as she posted her third double-double of the season.
• Former Notre Dame star Kayla McBride added 18 points, including 14 in the second half and overtime.
• Forward Tamera Young added 11 points and a career-best nine assists.

Quoting Fever Head Coach Pokey Chatman
“Just a couple quick notes to point out, then I’ll take your questions. First half, [Indiana took] only 13 shots inside the paint, 26 outside. Second half, 23 inside, 12 outside. Last possession of regulation, [the Aces] did us a favor by shooting early in the clock, but they got three offensive rebounds. In overtime, we gave up 17 points in five minutes.”

(On Natalie Achonwa)
“Natalie’s not always going to be the biggest player in any matchup and she’s not always going to beat you with a first step. But she’s a worker. She’s smart. She’s crafty. She made shots tonight I hadn’t seen from her in a while. She created her own space. I have said before that she’s a great screener. She might be an All-Star screener. And I’ll use her in that lineup every day for some of the things that she does that don’t show up on the stat sheet. I was proud of the effort she gave tonight.”

(On Erica Wheeler’s near triple-double off the bench)
“Did you notice who wasn’t in the starting lineup tonight? I’ll tell you why I’m proud of Erica Wheeler is the way she responded tonight. She found a way to impact the game. She’s gritty, she made plays, she didn’t pout. She’s a fighter. That’s a part of her DNA, that’s who she is. That steal and bucket in the last two minutes of regulation? That was big. I was proud of her.”

(On A’ja Wilson)
“She’s a very dynamic, hungry player and she has the mindset of a five-year veteran. She’s a pretty good player.”

“We don’t have a single margin for error. We need to be deliberate, disciplined, strong defensively. When we’re not, we’re gonna have a real tough time.”

Quoting the Fever’s Natalie Achonwa
(On her performance tonight)
“At the end of the day it doesn’t matter what one player does. If we lose, we lose. I can score, I can rebound as much as I want, but if we lose it’s still a loss. We’re still 0-8.”

(On overcoming slow starts)
“That’s one of our focuses, starting the first three minutes of the game hard. We did have energy lapses throughout the game. That’s what we have to work on because we haven’t had that in the last couple of games. At the end of the day we just have to be better. We have be better.”

Quoting the Fever’s Tiffany Mitchell
(Thoughts on finishing the game)
“We just need consistent effort throughout the whole game.”

(On not giving up)
“We still have the same face, the same energy at the start of every game. Just because we haven’t won a game is not going to affect how we start. I think we’re doing a good job just keeping the same energy.”

Quoting Aces Head Coach Bill Laimbeer
(On the team’s play in overtime)
“You don’t want to go to overtime with a back-to-back staring in your face. You played a lot of minutes and a lot of people. We let the game get away from us at the end of regulation, but we took charge. A’ja (Wilson) took charge in overtime and showed what a dominant player she really is.”

(On A’ja Wilson)
“I (was) waiting for a breakout game like this one. I told my coaches before that game that it’s time for her to step forward and have a big breakout game. I actually said I wanted her to get 35 and 15, but she almost came pretty close to that.”

(On Natalie Achonwa)
“Natalie made all the shots. They found her, figured out our defense and how we were stopping their guards and found her for open looks and she made them. Give her credit.”

Quoting the Aces’ A’ja Wilson
(What was working well for you tonight?)
“I think my teammates. Just in trusting my teammates. They really helped me out a lot. They kept me going. I had spurts where nothing was falling. They kept believing in me and kept giving me the ball. So that just kind of fueled my fire within. Coach just said I had to be mentally locked in. I slipped. I had a mental lapse one time and then once I got locked back in things just started working. And my teammates kept going to me so I just had to repay them.”

(On overtime)
“I think our conversation was really just takeover. We had to earn this win. It’s tough to get a win here, but we knew we didn’t want to go home without this win. We definitely just locked in to one another and concentrated and we got the job done.”

Quoting the Aces’ Kayla McBride
(On A’ja Wilson’s overtime period)
“I think she really came to life. I think midway through the third quarter she hit a wall a little bit. Her shots weren’t falling, she wasn’t getting calls and I just kept telling her do you. You’re the best player out here and continue to do you, and she did. She kept pushing, she kept pushing. I was really proud of how she fought and she had an amazing game, 35, 13…that’s unbelievable, especially as a rookie. I think today was really a breakout game for her and she carried us in overtime.”

(On Natalie Achonwa)
“She’s such a great player. She knows the game. Her basketball IQ is through the roof, so I’m not surprised that she does thinks like she does. I think she saw me across from her and kind of felt like she needed to do something a little bit different tonight. She’s a great player and a great player for them, but you know it’s always great to see the Fighting Irish in the WNBA and get to compete against them.”