As Atlanta closed the gap to four points, 70-74, with 2:41 left in the fourth quarter, Indiana ended the game on an 11-4 run to earn an 85-74 home win.
Indiana finished with its first win by 10 or more points this season.
Entering tonight’s game ranked last in the WNBA in points allowed and opponents’ field goal percentage, the Fever set new season bests on the defensive end as they limited Atlanta to 74 points on 37.5 percent shooting.
With a 33-11 scoring advantage in tonight’s game, Indiana’s bench has now outscored its opponent’s second unit in all 11 games this season. Atlanta’s bench combined to shoot just 3-for-19 from the field in tonight’s game.
Indiana improved its home record to 5-1 this season. The Fever are now tied with Washington and New York for the most home wins in the WNBA this season.
The Fever set a new season high as they shot 54.4 percent from the field. Outside of the second quarter in which Indiana scored only 11 points on 5-for-17 shooting, the Fever shot a combined 65.0 percent (26-40) during the other three quarters.
After leading the Fever in scoring in each of the past three games in Briann January’s absence, Erica Wheeler scored in double figures for the fourth straight game with a team-high 20 points on 9-for-16 shooting. She also led the Fever in assists for the third straight outing and set a new season high with seven assists.
Wheeler has now scored 20 or more points in two of the last four games. She had only reached the 20-point mark once over her previous two WNBA seasons.
After going scoreless in the first half, Tiffany Mitchell finished the night with 14 points in 23 minutes off the bench. She tied her career high with eight free throws on eight attempts for the third time in the last five games.
Mitchell, who entered tonight’s game as the second-ranked free throw shooter in the WNBA at 97.0 percent, has now made her last 36 free throw attempts – six shy of her own franchise record of 42 consecutive free throws made last season.
Jazmon Gwathmey saw the most action of her WNBA career as she played 26 minutes off the bench and finished with nine points and set a new career high with seven rebounds.
Marissa Coleman scored in double figures for only the second game this season with 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting.
Candice Dupree finished in double figures for the fifth straight game and ninth time this season with 10 points to go with a team-high eight rebounds. Dupree now needs only two rebounds to move into 10th place in WNBA history in career rebounds ahead of former Fever forward and Olympian Yolanda Griffith.
The Dream saw their record drop to .500 with a 5-5 overall mark. Wrapping up a five-game road trip with a 1-4 record, Atlanta’s record stands at 3-4 on the road this season.
Entering tonight’s game as the league’s eighth-ranked scorer, Tiffany Hayes finished with 17 points, including 12 in the second half.
Forward Bria Holmes added a season-high 17 points to go with four assists.
Former Fever guard Layshia Clarendon finished with nine points and a game-high eight assists.
The Fever have now won four of the past five home games over Atlanta.
Indiana has won six of the past eight overall matchups over the Dream dating back to the 2015 season.
Quoting Fever Head Coach Pokey Chatman
“We got a real good effort from the whole roster and set the tone early. We didn’t let Atlanta get out in transition, and that was the key. I thought we continued to improve some things on offense, but we really won tonight with our defense.”
“Erica Wheeler gave us so much energy to start the game. She just gives us activity everywhere, offensively and defensively. When Erica plays in transition, if we can keep up our spacing, she just wins. She’s really tough to beat in open space, especially when she’s hitting shots.”
“We locked in on defense. We knew we had to limit Atlanta from running, but we had to have discipline and keep from fouling. [Atlanta] only shot 15 free throws and they average about 20, so I thought that was important.”
Quoting the Fever’s Tiffany Mitchell
(On the energy brought off the bench)
“I missed a few shots early in the game. They were good looks so they told me to stay confident, but don’t let that affect my defense. So that’s what I did, just played through and finally got the ball to go in.”
(On her aggression in the second half)
“I feel like it was a little bit equal. I mean I just missed the shots earlier in the first half. Same attack both halves. It was a good win. Now we just need to get a win on the road.”
Quoting the Fever’s Erica Wheeler
(On the team’s mindset coming off a road loss)
“I don’t know why we can’t get a win on the road. I think that’s what fuels us to come back, because we try to protect home. Because right now we’re not playing so well on the road. I think our mindset is just a little bit different when we come home.”
(On Coach Chatman getting on the team about their defense)
“I think we played well. We played solid. We stuck to the schemes and I think we were helping each other out a lot, even if we were getting hit with those screens or whatever it was. We were helping each other out.”
(On the lull in the second quarter)
“I think they ended up hitting like two threes and a couple of layups. I think that’s lack of defense. I think that second quarter or third quarter we kind of got down on our defense by just not communicating.”
Quoting Dream Head Coach Michael Cooper
(On the key difference in the game)
“We had an opportunity to win the game, but we missed a lot of open shots, didn’t pay attention to detail and didn’t rebound well enough. You’ve got to tip your hat to Indiana. I thought they came and played a more physical game and kept us on our heels.”
(On Bria Holmes’s efficiency)
“Bria is a slasher and I thought she got to the basket very well tonight. She can create a lot of havoc when she’s going to the basket, because she collapses the defense and frees up shooters on the outside.”
(On Erica Wheeler’s play)
“She’s a more determined player now. She’s a good point guard in this league, and she set the tone for Indiana by coming in and knocking down shots, and that enabled everybody else to have success.”
Quoting the Dream’s Tiffany Hayes
“It was a tough game. We just gotta play tougher on the road and be consistent on defense.”
(On difference between the first and second quarter)
“I think we got out and ran a little more in the second quarter. We were a little more poised on our defensive end and that got some offense going for us.”
(On the team’s defense)
“We gotta communicate on defense. Like I said we have to be in sync when it comes to our defense because that’s what fuels our offense.”
Quoting the Dream’s Bria Holmes
“I think we started the game a little slow. As the game went on I feel like we had defensive miscues and we weren’t executing our offense as well as we should have. Second half, we came out a little stronger and I just feel like we didn’t close the game out as we should have.”
(On the big swing from the first quarter to the second quarter)
“I think we were just missing our defensive assignments and weren’t communicating as much as we should have. Just letting (Wheeler) get hot. We need to come out with a stronger mindset.”