ATLANTA — Tiffany Hayes scored 24 points and added the go-ahead bucket in overtime to pace the Atlanta Dream past the Indiana Fever, 79-74 Saturday at McCamish Pavilion.
Brittney Sykes scored 16 points and Elizabeth Williams added 15 to help Atlanta overcome a consistent Indiana lead and remain in contention for the WNBA playoffs.
Indiana, despite a 14-point lead, 23 points from Erica Wheeler and a career-tying 16 from Jazmon Gwathmey, lost its sixth straight game overall and tied a club record with its seventh straight road defeat. The Dream won its second straight game after nine consecutive defeats.
Trailing throughout most of regulation, the Dream struck first in overtime on a bucket by Williams, and after Candice Dupree tied the score at 70, Hayes and Williams pushed the Dream’s lead to four, then their largest of the game with 3:12 left in OT. Former Fever star Layshia Clarendon extended the lead to 76-70 with 1:19 in the extra session.
Wheeler cut the margin to 76-72 before Gwathmey fouled out with 23.9 seconds remaining. Sykes converted three free throws around a bucket from Natalie Achonwa in the final moments.
“For me, just about the biggest factor was [Atlanta’s] 13 offensive rebounds. They may not have converted them all into points, but they were crucial,” said Fever coach Pokey Chatman. “The second thing was their 29 free throw attempts. We did a lot of things right, but one thing we didn’t was rebound. We checked a lot of boxes tonight, but we gave them too many extra possessions.”
The game may never have seen overtime if it weren’t for the Dream’s extra possessions.
Indiana clung to a narrow lead in the fourth when Tiffany Hayes knotted the score at 65 with 1:41 to play. Wheeler buried a deep 3-pointer to put Indiana into the lead with 1:17 remaining and it may have been enough for Indiana to salt away a win with some late free throws were it not for one of five Dream offensive boards in the fourth quarter, alone.
After Wheeler’s 3-pointer, the Dream’s ensuing possession was extended by a rebound by Bria Holmes. Star rookie Brittney Sykes accented the possession by drilling a deep 3 of her own for the tie. Indiana had a chance to win in regulation, but another 3-point attempt by Wheeler was off the mark.
Indiana limited Atlanta to just 38 percent shooting, but the Dream took advantage of a 50-28 rebounding edge and 21 free throws compared to just eight for Indiana.
Atlanta erased Indiana’s early 14-point deficit and captured its first lead of on a pair of free throws by Hayes with 14 seconds left in the third period. Wheeler hit a jumper to end the period and set the stage for the fourth.
Indiana never trailed in the first half, and used an 11-1 run late in the opening quarter to command a double-digit lead, it’s first in a month. The Fever led 26-12 heading to the second when Atlanta scored the first seven points of the period to draw within six. The Fever answered right back with an identical 7-0 run and held on for a 43-35 advantage at intermission.
Indiana returns to Bankers Life Fieldhouse to close its season next week with home games Wednesday and Saturday against the Minnesota Lynx and San Antonio Stars, respectively.