ATLANTA — Tiffany Hayes scored 23 points including 11-of-15 from the foul stripe to lead the Atlanta Dream to a 72-67 afternoon win over the Indiana Fever. Hayes hit 8-of-12 free throws in the first quarter and shot 6-of-18 from the floor to help keep the Fever winless.
Hayes also was instrumental in keeping Indiana’s standout rookie Kelsey Mitchell off-balance all afternoon. Indiana’s leading scorer hit a lone fourth-quarter basket while shooting 1-of-12 overall and 0-of-5 from 3-point range.
The Fever lost their 10th straight game to open the 2018 season, matching a franchise record for consecutive losses. The Dream, despite traveling cross-country after a game in Los Angeles late Tuesday, won for the fourth time in five games and won their third straight in the series over Indiana.
“I keep telling them we’re close,” said Fever head coach Pokey Chatman referring to the club’s elusive first victory. “We’ve had a couple of overtime games and a couple other one-opportunity games, all against quality teams. You don’t get much closer than that. Our job is to make sure to keep the players ready for that moment.”
Angel McCoughtry scored 16 points for Atlanta and Jessica Breland scored six points with a game-high 13 rebounds. Layshia Clarendon had nine points, all in the fourth quarter as the Dream regrouped from a seven-point deficit.
Neither team led by more than four points until an 8-0 Indiana run staked the Fever to a seven-point lead in the third. The Dream rallied in the fourth to score 11 unanswered points and open their own seven-point edge, 62-55, with 3:40 left in the game.
Candice Dupree’s baseline jumper brought the Fever within 64-60 with 1:18 to go, but Indiana never got closer.
Dupree paced Indiana with 17 points, and Tiffany Mitchell and Victoria Vivians each scored 13. Vivians, the No. 8 overall pick in the 2018 WNBA Draft, was 3-of-4 from 3-point range while matching a career scoring high. Natalie Achonwa added 10 points and five rebounds for the Fever, and Erica Wheeler, playing in the 100th game of her career, finished with a game- and career-high 10 assists.
Hayes’ buzzer-beating jumper put the Dream on top 41-40 at the intermission, with Kelsey Mitchell scoreless and Indiana led by 10 points apiece from Vivians, Dupree and Tiffany Mitchell. A slow-scoring third period saw the Fever outscore Atlanta 11-8 and take a 51-49 lead heading to the fourth.
The Dream and Fever face each other again Saturday evening in Indianapolis at 7:00 p.m.