Indianapolis, IN -- The Indiana Fever and the Atlanta Dream faced off, with both teams having a victory over the other this season. The Fever's resiliency could not be measured, as they inched their way back into the game, overcoming both a slow start and an early 11-point deficit, to snap a five-game home losing streak and defeat the Dream 72-78.
Two minutes after the tip, both teams remained scoreless, but with the help of a fast break lay-up by the Dream's Angel McCoughtry, the scoreboard silence was finally broken, as both teams started to slowly put up points in their favor.
Despite turnovers plaguing both teams early, McCoughtry's persistence on offense quickly soared the Dream to a six-point lead midway through the first quarter, contributing half of her team's points. Notably for the Fever, as the Dream led 12-6, Lynetta Kizer had all six of Fever's points.
As time continued to tick away and scoreless minutes passed once again, this time, four, the Dream's Layshia Claredon finally snapped the scoring slump, launching the Dream on a 14-3 run, closing out the first quarter with an 11-point lead, 20-9.
Following a second quarter opening three-pointer by Tiffany Mitchell and a layup by Kizer, the Fever's 11-point deficit quickly faded to just two. As the Fever increased their intensity on defense, causing multiple Dream turnovers, it suddenly became hard to believe they were down by as many as 11 in the first quarter.
"We get more confidence when our shots begin to fall, and we play with better confidence overall. It all starts with that high energy on defense," said Fever head coach Stephanie White.
But despite keeping the ball mostly to themselves in the second, the Fever were not greedy when it came to sharing the ball on offense. Tamika Catchings, Kizer, Erica Wheeler, Mitchell and Erlana Larkins, were just some of the players that contributed to their strong offensive comeback.
"When we have high energy and we stay active on defense, we get more defensive stops and we get better looks on offense," said White. "The more we defend at a high level, the more we get opportunities for lots of people to score."
The Fever left the first half trailing by only two, 34-32, outscoring the Dream 23-14 in the second quarter.
Back-to-back points by Kizer opened the second half, not only making her the first player to get into double figures for both teams, but also giving the Fever their first lead of the game at 36-34.
The Fever continued to lead, as veteran Catchings' 10-points took her team from leading by two to eight, breaking away from the Dream 50-42. However, Carla Cortijo's combined career-high 20-points off the bench (10 in the third quarter), allowed the Dream comeback and tied the Fever at 54-54.
"I know the team relies on me a lot, just as an energy boost or whatever case that may be, whether it's defensively, offensively, whatever it is," said Catchings.
The Dream briefly led by one late in the quarter, but the Fever managed to regain their lead and exit the third ahead of their opponent 57-55.
Seven straight Fever points by Briann January and Marissa Coleman, got the team to an exciting start in the fourth quarter, as the Fever began to expand their lead over the Dream by seven. Forcing turnover after turnover, the Fever went on a 9-0 run, and Kizer continued to contribute points consistently for her team, being the key they needed to keep their seven-point lead locked.
"I missed a couple in the first half and they just kept telling me to shoot, so I just keep knocking them down," Kizer said of her demeanor and confidence.
In addition to falling behind the Fever in the fourth quarter, Atlanta was dealt another huge blow when their two top scorers McCoughtry and Tiffany Hayes, both fouled out of the game, McCoughtry leaving with 10 and Hayes with just four. Both typically average over thirty points combined.
"True champions, they'll rise through the adversity. It's like when we get hit with adversity, we just hold our shoulders down. We have to snap out of that. Until we snap out of that as a team, we won't win many games," said the Dream's Angel McCoughtry.
The Fever then took their first double-figure lead of the game, 72-61, and big points by Kizer and Larkins, along with assists by January, kept the Fever ahead all the way until the final buzzer, winning 78-72.
Kizer and Catchings lead the Fever with 18 points each and Larkins had 11 rebounds. For the Dream, Cortijo had an impressive career-high game with 20 points off the bench.
With their win against the Dream, the Fever snapped a five-game losing streak at home. They stand at 10-12 record, third in the Eastern Conference.