The Atlanta Dream ended their five-game losing streak with an impressive 88-78 win over the Indiana Fever. Atlanta retook the lead to complete the 13th and last lead change in the third quarter with under two minutes left.
The Dream would never relinquish the lead.
Atlanta made a season-high 10 three-pointers and shot a season-best 44.1 percent from the field. Tiffany Hayes led all scorers with 28 points, contributing six boards and three assists.
Hayes also set a career milestone — 3,000 points:
Renee Montgomery had her best game of the season with 16 points, nine assists and six rebounds. Since the Dream’s season-opening victory, Montgomery had not scored more than eight points in a game.
Rookie Maite Cazorla had her best game as a professional, with six points and three assists. It was also her first game with more than one made shot from beyond the arc.
The Dream played a very clean game, with only six turnovers. It is a vast improvement over the 16.5 turnovers they’ve averaged per contest this season.
Head coach Nicki Collen’s opening statement after the game acknowledged her team’s improvement:
After a game that we turned the ball over 21 times, to turn around against Indiana and only turn it over six times is a testament to a lot of what we talked about today. Our execution was at a different level, without question.
Coach Collen’s best comment about the Dream’s win: “I think we were due.”
Indiana played a fine game offensively, with four of five starters scoring in double figures. However, the Fever received virtually no support from their bench with just 10 points being scored on 4-of-17 shooting.
The Fever’s defensive intensity simply did not match their offensive execution, either, especially in the second half.
Head coach Pokey Chatman said of her team’s uneven performance:
I didn’t really feel that way in the first half, but not I get your point watching with a different set of lens, we put up 44 points, we were down by one maybe at the half I felt like we were going offensively but we kind of neutralized that because we weren’t solid defensively. I mean put them on the free throw line a lot, we were not disciplined gave them a little bit of momentum. I thought they answered the call and they had players that hadn’t scored 28 points a game, Tiffany Hayes stepped up, very timely, they’re a hungry team. I think they punished us when it counted.
Candice Dupree led the Fever in scoring with 19 points and moved into seventh on the WNBA career all-time scoring list. But Teaira McCowan easily had the biggest impact for the Fever. The Mississippi State product got her first regular-season start for the Fever, with Natalie Achonwa out with a left calf strain. McCowan made good use of the opportunity — scoring 14 points and recording 15 rebounds, for her first professional career double-double.
McCowan also blocked five shots and, to her credit, was called for just four fouls.
The Indiana Fever got off to a surprising 3-1 regular-season start. But, following Wednesday’s loss, have now lost four of their last five games. The Fever were punished by Atlanta’s three-point shooting, which could not have been expected given Atlanta’s poor start to the season. However, the Fever will need to improve immensely on the defensive end as they face the Chicago Sky next, on Friday, June 21.
For Atlanta, this is just one win. At 2-5, the Dream clearly has a lot of room for improvement. They will travel to Connecticut to face back-to-back and reigning Player of the Week Jonquel Jones and the Sun on Friday, June 21. Connecticut is 6-0 in the month of June.