Erica Wheeler scored 20 points and added seven assists while leading the Indiana Fever to their fifth home win in six games with an 85-74 win over the Atlanta Dream.
Wheeler sparked Indiana offensively and defensively, and helped Indiana limit the Dream to just 37 percent shooting. Atlanta’s 27-of-72 shooting and their 74 points both were season lows by a Fever opponent.
“We had real good effort from the whole roster tonight, and we set the tone early. We didn’t let Atlanta get out in transition, that was the key.” said Fever coach Pokey Chatman whose team is now 5-6 overall and 5-1 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
“We continued to improve some things offensively,” added Chatman, “but we really won this game tonight on defense.”
Indiana outrebounded Atlanta 33-29 and did its best to keep the Dream within its half-court offense. Chatman preached discipline on defense and while Atlanta committed just ten turnovers and kept in the game with seven 3-pointers, the Fever kept the Dream in check shot a season-high 54 percent, themselves.
The Fever led by as many as 10 in the first half, but the Dream whittled the lead within 4, 76-72 with 2:09 to play on a layup by Elizabeth Williams. But Wheeler answered with a 3-pointer and Natalie Achonwa’s jumper lifted the lead back to nine with 1:12 to play.
“Erica gave us so much energy to start the game,” added Chatman. “She just gives us activity everywhere, offensively and defensively. When Erica plays in transition, if we can keep up our spacing, she just wins. She’s really tough to beat in open space, especially when she’s hitting shots.”
The Fever got contributions nine-deep on its roster, with all nine players in the scoring column. Wheeler shot 9-of-16 and contributed seven assists and three rebounds to set the pace. Tiffany Mitchell added 14 points off the bench, and Marissa Coleman and Candice Dupree each scored 10.
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Bria Holmes and Tiffany Hayes each scored 17 points to lead Atlanta. Williams and Damiris Dantas added 10 apiece for the Dream who lost for the fourth time in five games, and ended a five-game road swing.
For the 11th consecutive game, Indiana’s bench outscored its opponent. Besides Mitchell, Jazmon Gwathmey added a season-high nine points with a career-high six rebounds. Achonwa pitched in seven points, all in the second half, and six boards. Jeanette Pohlen-Mavunga played only six minutes but hit her only shot attempt, a 3-pointer.