Indiana Fever still looking for first victory

DOUG FEINBERG (AP Basketball Writer)
The Associated Press

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) -- It's been a tough start to the season for the Indiana Fever.

The team has lost its first eight games - the worst start in franchise history. Indiana had a good shot at its first victory Sunday but fell to New York 78-75. With the game tied in the final 20 seconds, the Fever couldn't get a needed stop and then didn't get a good look on the other end to try to tie it.

''These ones hurt,'' forward Natalie Achonwa said. ''You see how much heart, effort and fight my teammates are putting in. It makes it that much harder when it comes down to one possession.''

Coach Pokey Chatman gave a long, fiery postgame speech to her team.

''It makes it hard when she feels like she's repeating herself,'' Achonwa said. ''It's how you take on tomorrow. You can't take back that last three. How do we learn from today and get better? We have 34 games, we've only played eight. We'll see how we respond from this. We've got to keep fighting to get that win.''

Indiana's next game is Tuesday against Las Vegas, which has just one win this season. The Fever can take some solace that the 2013 squad started 1-7 before making the playoffs.

''We're trying to stay positive. It's all about these pivotal moments that coach Pokey talks about in regards to gut check,'' rookie Kelsey Mitchell said. ''Growing pains. We'll try to learn from our mistakes and trust the process at this point.''

With veterans Candice Dupree and Shenise Johnson sidelined by injury, the Fever have a young team. Nine of the 10 players who played Sunday have three years or less experience in the league. Mitchell, who was taken with the No. 2 pick in the draft this past April, has been a consistent scorer, and fellow first-round pick Victoria Vivians is starting to get more comfortable in the pros. She hit a big 3-pointer against New York that tied the game at 75 .

''We battled. Battled. Battled. We just came up short,'' Chatman said.

While the Fever looked lost earlier in the season, getting down by 20 points early on, they have been more competitive lately.

''We know that we are right there. We know we need one more stop; one more shot; one more rebound; one more deflection; one fewer turnover,'' Achonwa said. ''Everybody needs to improve just one percent more. We know that we're right there.''

Indiana is still well short of the WNBA record of 17 losses to start the season set by Atlanta in 2008.

''We're just taking it one game at a time and focusing on that,'' Chatman said. ''We are still a very young team. It just takes one win to get us going.''

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