Rhyne Howard took over at times, but it was a total team effort for the Atlanta Dream Sunday afternoon at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Allisha Gray led the way with 25 points and Cheyenne Parker played admirably on both ends of the floor all game long against Aliyah Boston.
The team didn’t look to Howard to be the closer, as the ball instead found an open Nia Coffey for three fourth-quarter treys that provided breathing room.
The Dream led by as much as 18 in the contest before holding on to defeat the Indiana Fever 100-94.
Former Dream guard Kristy Wallace made a right-wing three with 10 seconds left to cut it to 98-94. Danielle Robinson, playing in her first game back from knee surgery, dribbled out of trouble right beneath the Dream’s own basket on the ensuing possession and Gray made two free throws to ice it.
Wallace made a mid-air put-back to cut it to 98-91 with 23 ticks remaining and then Dream point-forward Haley Jones went 0-of-2 at the line at 15 seconds.
The Fever (4-7) cut their deficit from 16 to seven with a 12-3 run from 6:00 remaining to 3:46 remaining. Erica Wheeler kicked it off with a foot-on-the-arc two. Aliyah Boston stole the ball from the Dream (5-5) on the ensuing possession, leading to two NaLyssa Smith free throws. The next two Fever scoring possessions were Smith free throws and a Boston layup. Kelsey Mitchell got involved with a pretty scoop layup high of the glass that cut it to 86-77 and then Smith cut it to seven with a transition layup.
Atlanta would go on to push the lead back to 12 with Coffey’s third three of the fourth.
Howard added six rebounds to her stat line while Gray had three assists and two steals. Parker was good for 15 points, seven boards and four swipes. Coffey (3-of-4 from downtown) finished with 11 points, four rebounds and six helpers. Gray was an impressive 9-of-13 from the field and 6-of-6 at the stripe.
Four other Dream players scored, all scoring at least six points.
Boston battled with Parker en route to 25 points, six boards and four rejections. Mitchell added 24 points and four helpers. Boston was 10-of-15 from the field and 5-of-5 from the free throw line.
Atlanta closed the first on an 8-0 run to lead 23-14. AD Durr started the run with a triple and then Naz Hillmon displayed some nice post moves before a layup that made it 20-14. Parker closed out the frame by blocking Boston on one end and converting a 3-point play on Boston on the other.
The Dream maintained a pretty good lead throughout the second quarter. Highlights of the frame for them included a beautiful Howard scoop layup through contact and a mid-range fade from Gray that rattled in. Highlights for Indiana included a Boston spin move-turned-inside score and a Grace Berger steal-turned-nifty-behind-the-back-dribble that led to a short jumper in the paint in transition that was vintage Hoosiers Berger.
Howard opened the second half’s scoring with a deep two and then rattled in a three that made it 53-43 Dream. A step-back deep two at the 7:18 mark of the third gave her Atlanta’s first seven points of the frame and made it 55-45. Gray scored five of the Dream’s next six on a wide-open transition layup and a right-corner three that made it 61-45.
Parker would finish with her off-hand inside to make it an 18-point lead with 3:46 remaining before the fourth. An 11-2 Fever run followed and ensured Indiana was still in the game entering the final frame.
Boston started the run with a beautiful pump fake from mid-range before a driving layup. Wallace then hit from mid-range on the possession following a Smith steal before Mitchell knocked down the Fever’s first made three of the contest. On the other side of two Gray free throws, Queen Egbo made two free throws and Emma Cannon hit from mid-range to close the run.
Coffey threes at 8:46 in the fourth and 6:16 in the fourth made it 76-62 Dream and 83-67 Dream, respectively, before Indiana started making it interesting.
The game was back and forth early on. Parker made a beautiful play when she split two defenders underneath the basket and finished to make it 4-2 Dream. Meanwhile, Mitchell scored four of Indiana’s first seven points, including a step-back mid-range make. She would go on to make it seven of the Fever’s first 12.
The Dream won field goal percentage 56.1 to 45.2 and 3-point percentage 46.7 to 21.1 (three more makes).
This was a good opportunity for the Fever to move into the playoff picture; a win also would have extended their winning streak to three games. Instead, they remain in ninth place while the Dream move up from eighth into a tie for fifth. If the Sparks lose Sunday night, Atlanta will be alone in fifth.