When all else fails for the Atlanta Dream (6-4 overall) there’s always a pair of veterans on the roster to bring it all back together. Angel McCoughtry and Layshia Clarendon took what was a two-point deficit at the end of the third quarter and helped turn that into a 72-67 win against the visiting Indiana Fever (0-10)
The Indiana Fever came into this afternoon’s game against Atlanta with a 0-9 record but you could not tell from the way they opened the first quarter against the Dream, leading early and often throughout and take a 21-21 tied score in the second quarter following a putback basket by Erica McCall.
The Dream was hosting a special Kid’s Day afternoon tip-off and after winning two of three during their recent west coast swing a win over a winless team would be very much needed in anticipation of consecutive road games at Indiana and the New York Liberty.
Dream guard and the most recent WNBA player of the week Tiffany Hayes would have a buzzer-beater of her own to end the first half and give the Dream a 41-40 advantage.
The Dream got a huge offensive lift from Hayes during the opening half of play, particularly in the first quarter where she would score 11 of her 17 first-half points. Her shot at the end of the second quarter coming on a deep corner fadeaway that had to be reviewed in order to tell if it was a three or two point shot.
The bulk of Indiana’s offense during the first three quarters came from veteran forward Candice Dupree who had 11 points and would not allow the Dream post defenders, Elizabeth Williams, Imani McGee-Stafford and Jessica Breland rush her into shots. The same could be said on the other side of the court where Dupree went in the final quarter of play with a single foul despite playing almost 20 minutes of the possible 30 minutes.
An 11-8 third-quarter advantage kept the Fever in the lead, 51-49 at the end of the quarter.
With the score tied at 51 early in the fourth quarter, Indiana found forward Tiffany Mitchell in the corner for a jump shot, her 12th point of the game, and got another long jumper from Kelsey Mitchell, a rookie out of Ohio State, to go ahead 55-51.
The score would be tied once more at 55 with five minutes remaining when Angel McCoughtry and Layshia Clarendon (nine points) would score on consecutive possessions, the latter being from three, to give the Dream their largest lead of the game at 60-55. Atlanta had been ahead by four points early in the second quarter.
A reverse layup by Clarendon with 3:28 remaining in the game put the Dream ahead by seven. A pair of Free-throws by McCoughtry (16 points) extended the Dream advantage further. The veteran pair played the remaining eight minutes of the fourth quarter for head coach Nicki Collen.
The Dream was led in scoring by Hayes with 23 points. The Fever had three players in double-figures with Dupree leading the way with 17 points. Victoria Viavians and Tiffany Mitchell each scored 13 points.
Atlanta’s game with the Fever on Saturday is scheduled for a 7 p.m. start.