Kelsey Mitchell sets a WNBA record with 9 three-pointers in a game

Indiana Fever guard Kelsey Mitchell attacks the basket during Indiana's 84-82 loss to the Seattle Storm on June 11, 2019. Photo by Kimberly Geswein
Indiana Fever guard Kelsey Mitchell attacks the basket during Indiana's 84-82 loss to the Seattle Storm on June 11, 2019. Photo by Kimberly Geswein /

The No. 2 pick in the 2018 draft hit 9 of 13 from behind the arc to help the Fever close out the season with a victory

INDIANAPOLIS — Pokey Chatman said Kelsey Mitchell shot terribly during warmups before their season finale against the Sun.

Chatman then joked that missing shots will need to become part of Mitchell’s pregame routine.

After firing bricks during warmups, the second-year guard out of Ohio State set a WNBA regular season record by making nine three-pointers during the Fever’s 104-76 victory over Connecticut on the last day of the regular season. (Kristi Toliver also hit nine three-pointers in a game, but that came in the 2017 playoffs.)

In addition to setting a WNBA record, Mitchell also set a franchise record for points in a game with 38. She accomplished these feats while shooting 13-of-18 from the field and 3-of-3 from the foul line. It was one of the most efficient shooting performances of the season in the WNBA.

Mitchell was unaware that she had set the three-point record until High Post Hoops told her after the game. While Mitchell was pleased with her performance, she mentioned several times during her postgame interview that her primary goal this year was to lead the Fever to the playoffs. When asked what the records meant to Mitchell, she said, “Not too much because we didn’t make the playoffs. So, it’s bittersweet,” Mitchell said. “Everybody always wants to do well, it just happened to be me today. But I’m going to keep working. I’m going to go back to the play board and show that we can make the playoffs. That’s honestly what I’m trying to do. I’m not really into accolades … I just try to play as hard as I can.”

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Mitchell may have understated her gutty performance. She got banged up in practice earlier in the week, then re-aggravated the nagging injury when she was fouled on a three-pointer late in the first half. She stayed down for several moments before walking to the line and making all three foul shots.

The amount of pain Mitchell was feeling may have been questionable, but her shooting certainly wasn’t. She made her first four three-pointers in the last 5:33 of the first quarter. She hit three more in the second quarter, which tied a WNBA record for three-pointers made in a half. She finished the first half with 30 points and connected on 7-of-9 from behind the arc.

Mitchell couldn’t point to any specific play or scheme that got her going early on. “I just felt like it’s any other game. Obviously, I’m a competitor, so my goal is always to win and put my team in a position to win. I just try to play my role and play my role as best as possible.”

Mitchell only played three minutes in the third quarter because she picked up her fourth foul. She didn’t take a shot in the quarter and sat the last seven minutes after she picked up the loose ball foul with 7:13 left in the frame.

Mitchell played the entire fourth quarter, much to the delight of her teammates and fans.

Mitchell tied the WNBA record with a three-pointer from the corner with 4:48 to play. Then she broke the record with a three from the wing with 1:07 left.

“She’s capable of doing what she did tonight, but what I liked seeing was that she’s starting now to score off screens and other movement, in addition to creating shots off her own dribble,” Chatman said after the game. “She’s learning. She’s learning the playbook of the WNBA, and what I mean by that is not the Fever playbook. She knows that part. But she’s learning how to work around her opponents and she’s learning how to be effective on the defensive side of the ball. She’s always going to be an offensive threat.”

Mitchell finished second in the WNBA with 79 three-pointers made this season, just one short of Allie Quigley. Mitchell’s 79 threes in one season is second in Fever franchise history. Katie Douglas holds the record with 80 three-pointers in 2012.

Mitchell was the second overall pick in the 2018 WNBA Draft. She holds the NCAA Women’s Basketball record for most three-pointers made in a career with 497.  During her rookie season, Mitchell’s 70 made three-pointers was the most by a rookie since Tamika Catchings made 76 in 2002.

The one knock on Mitchell has been her consistency. She said that’s something she wants to work on when she plays overseas this season. Mitchell started every game until July 21, when she was benched after a string of poor shooting performances. She came off the bench the rest of the season until the finale. She was inserted back into the starting lineup against Connecticut because Tiffany Mitchell was in concussion protocol.

Kelsey had several solid performances off the bench, including a 20-point, 9-assist performance during a win against Minnesota on August 3. In that game, the Fever fell behind by 20 points in the second quarter, but Mitchell sparked the team’s largest regular-season comeback victory in franchise history. Mitchell primarily played at the point guard in that game.

She spent time at point guard and shooting guard as her role fluctuated all season. With sharpshooter Victoria Vivians out all season, Mitchell was the Fever’s primary perimeter shooter. Mitchell led the WNBA with 211 three-point attempts. She finished the season as the Fever’s leading scorer with 13.6 points per game.

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