INDIANAPOLIS – Despite a career high 34 points from Tiffany Hayes, Indiana outscored Atlanta 27-19 in the fourth quarter to seize a 87-82 win over the Dream on Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
After trailing 63-60 to start the fourth, the Fever jumped on the Dream early in the frame, going on an 11-3 run that was capped off by a Shenise Johnson three-pointer. Teaira McCowan was a big part of Indiana’s fourth quarter game plan, as the rookie scored eight points in the frame including a hook shot that gave the Fever a 75-70 lead late.
Atlanta hit a pair of three-pointers late to cut the deficit to a single possession, 84-82, but Erica Wheeler and McCowan drilled their free throws in the final minute to hold on to the win.
“We were just talking to them about growth,” said Fever head coach Pokey Chatman on Indiana’s fourth quarter defense. “We might start a scheme and change three or four times from going under to over – then let’s trap somebody. That’s the growth. We just tried to break their rhythm.”
The victory is Indiana’s third straight at home and marks three wins in four games after the All-Star Break.
“Gotta win home games,” said Candice Dupree. “Third one that we have won since the All-Star break, so we have to find a way to build on that and use that momentum going into road games.”
The All-Star game MVP, Wheeler, paced the Fever with 19 points on 6-for-8 shooting and seven assists. Indiana’s other All-Star, Dupree, poured in 16 points and secured nine rebounds. McCowan had 13 points and seven rebounds in just 18 minutes off the bench.
As a team, Indiana registered 19 assists to only 10 turnovers.
“I think we were in good spots,” said Wheeler of the team’s playmaking. “I knew they would trap me, so just being able to get the ball out of the trap would lead to some good assists.”
Hayes added six rebounds and four assists to career high 34 for Atlanta. Brittney Sykes had 15 points and nine rebounds, while Jessica Breland chipped in13 points.
The first quarter was a sprint, as the two teams seemed content with getting out in transition early and often. At one point, Indiana led by four points, 13-9, which was the largest lead by either team in the opening quarter.
The visitors led 21-20 at the end of one, as Hayes scored seven in the first to lead the Dream.
Achonwa hit a three-point late in the quarter, her second of the season, with both coming in the last two games. She finished the game with 12 points and seven rebounds.
Things remained close during the second quarter, as Atlanta led 27-24. The Fever then went on a 9-1 run, as Wheeler canned a three-pointer and Dupree scored six points from the midrange. The run gave Indiana a five-point lead, 33-28.
Back to back three-pointers by Betnijah Laney extended the Indiana lead to 41-35. Jessica Breland and Brittney Sykes scored just before the half for Atlanta.
After 14 lead changes, the Fever led 41-39 at the break. Hayes led the Dream with 17 first half points. Dupree’s 10 paced Indiana early.
Atlanta took the lead on a 12-3 run early in the third quarter, giving the Dream a 58-49 lead, which was their largest of the game. The Fever roared back, going an 11-5 run to end the quarter as Wheeler and Kelsey Mitchell hit jumpers in the final seconds to cut the Atlanta lead to 63-60 heading into the final period.
Mitchell finished with 10 points off the bench for the Fever.
Indiana survived Atlanta’s comeback attempts late in the fourth to secure their second straight win over the Dream.
“We didn’t fold, which was good,” said Dupree. “We were able to get some stops and run out in transition and take advantage of our size inside. We were resilient and stuck with it.”
The Fever will have some time off before traveling to Washington for a matchup with the Mystics on Sunday, August 18th.