ATLANTA – The Indiana Fever (1-2) earned its first win of the 2023 regular season and the first win of Christie Sides’ head coaching career, 90-87, on Sunday in a back-and-forth affair against the Atlanta Dream (1-2) at Gateway Center Arena. Twenty lead changes occurred in the game and six Indiana players scored in double-figures, highlighted by NaLyssa Smith’s 23 points to go along with Kelsey Mitchell (15), Aliyah Boston (13), Erica Wheeler (11), Kristy Wallace (10) and Queen Egbo (10). Smith ended the game with her second consecutive double-double performance of the year, leading the team in scoring to go along with a game-high 12 rebounds.
With her 11 points on Sunday, Wheeler also took over sole possession of 10th place for most points scored in franchise history with 1,307, surpassing Natalie Achonwa with 1,301. Wheeler also went 3-of-4 from beyond the arc and surpassed 200 made 3-point field goals for her career.
Indiana used the first basket of the game from Smith to give the Fever its only lead in the first 20 minutes of action. Atlanta began to pull away in the beginning of Sunday’s game, but 11 points from Mitchell and five points from Wallace gave the Fever momentum to close the deficit to 25-20 at the end of the first quarter.
Smith had an impactful performance in the second quarter for Indiana, going 4-of-4 from the court and added eight points alone. Despite a game-tying jumper at the 4:34 mark from Smith, the Dream went into the half leading Indiana, 47-41.
After Indiana closed the 8-point gap in the third quarter, 10 of the 20 lead changes throughout the game took place in the third quarter alone. Boston earned a full quarter of playing time as she recorded eight of her 13 points and went 3-of-3 from the floor. The final outcome of the matchup came down to the wire, but two completed free-throws from Mitchell in the final seconds and strong defense during Atlanta’s last possession sealed the deal for an Indiana win as the horn sounded.
For Atlanta, the Dream were led by Rhyne Howard’s team-high 23 points and four rebounds. Forward Cheyenne Parker added 21 points and guard Allisha Gray tacked on 19. Atlanta also went 29-of-34 from the free throw line in its regular-season home-opener.
Indiana reserves also led Atlanta’s scoring production off the bench, 28-16.