Fever Comeback Falls Just Short in 87-83 Loss to the Atlanta Dream
The Fever outscored the Atlanta Dream 50-38 in the second half and shot 58 percent from the field after halftime, but Indiana could not overcome a 17-point halftime deficit as the Fever fell 87-83 Sunday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
After trailing by 17 points (50-33) at halftime, Indiana was able to trim its deficit to three points at two different points in the fourth quarter, but the Fever were unable to complete the comeback as they fell to 1-16 on the season.
Rookie forward Victoria Vivians set a new career high and the highest scoring total for the Fever this season with 27 points. She shot 8-for-12 from the field and made all five of Indiana's 3-pointers on the day. Her 27 points is tied for the fourth-highest scoring total by a rookie in Fever history, and is the highest by a player other than Tamika Catchings.
Vivians scored 10 straight Fever points, including eight over a 46-second span, during a 10-2 run that cut Indiana's deficit to four points with under a minute to play in the third quarter. Vivians finished with 12 points in the third quarter and 21 in the second half. She also set a season high and tied for the team lead with seven rebounds.
With five 3-pointers in tonight's game, this marks the third time over the last seven games Vivians has made five threes in a game.
Candice Dupree bounced back from a six-point performance Friday against Phoenix as she finished with 17 points and seven rebounds in tonight's loss
Ranked eighth in the WNBA in field goal percentage entering tonight's game, Natalie Achonwa finished with 16 points on 6-for-10 shooting.
Erica Wheeler helped spark the second-half comeback effort as she finished with 12 points, three assists and two steals in 23 minutes off the bench.
Prior to today's game, the Fever signed free agent, seven-time WNBA All-Star and Olympic gold medalist Cappie Pondexter to a contract. She was in uniform but did not play in tonight's loss.
The Dream ended a two-game losing skid and a stretch of four losses in their last five games with today's victory.
Atlanta improves to 8-8 this season with a 4-6 record on the road.
The Dream avenged a 96-64 road loss at Indiana on June 16 to improve their record to 2-1 this season against the Fever. The Dream will host the Fever one final time this season on July 13 in Atlanta.
Guard Brittney Sykes led Atlanta and set season highs with 20 points and seven assists in today's win.
Tiffany Hayes came off the bench to score 19 points, including 14 in the second half.
Quoting Fever Head Coach Pokey Chatman
"It was a tale of two halves. We gave up 50 points in the first half, 37 in the second. When you score 50 in a half, you're not going to change much in the second half. So at halftime, we knew [Atlanta] wasn't going to change anything. Atlanta had 26 transition points in the first half, just eight in the second half. So again, I asked our team, 'what changed?' We turned it up in the second half, but that's the point I tried to make with my team - we cannot always have to change. There has to be a constant."
(On Victoria Vivians - six points in first half, 21 points in the second half)
"I think we saw one of the ways that Cappie [Pondexter] can help this team. Victoria came to the bench with her head down one timeout and it was Cappie that got up into her chest and had a good little message for her. Then I asked her, 'is the only way you're ever going to help my team is when you make a basket?' it hit her in her heart, I think. She bounced back. I was proud of her, and she got hot and gave us a spark in the second half."
(On a slow night for Kelsey Mitchell)
"Kelsey didn't shoot it well tonight, but she had four assists. She's not going to shoot it well every night, but she's helping our team. She contributed to 10 points. That matters! That allows everyone to play off each other. Victoria had a hot hand and Kelsey helped open those opportunities for her. They are learning to play off each other."
Quoting the Fever's Candice Dupree
(On the second quarter)
"Too many lulls. I think the second quarter, we settled for way too many jump shots. We were in the bonus halfway through the quarter and didn't capitalize on it. The second half we just came out way more aggressive. Attack mentality, trying to get stops. But there were some points where we were just exchanging baskets with them and we can't do that because we dug ourselves an early hole and we were trying to climb out of it. But the way we played the second half is how we need to play the entire game."
(On Victoria Vivans)
"She played ok. (chuckling) She did well. She got some open shots. Just trying to find her off of double teams, run her off of stagger screens, penetrate and kick... She was creating her own shots: Shot fake, one dribble pull up. She did a good job."
(On acquiring Cappie Pondexter)
"That will help us tremendously. Veteran guard. Experience playing the point. I think she'll help us out, that aspect of it. But at the same time, she's a scorer. She can come off of ball screens, attack mentality. She's a competitor. So she should help us out a lot."
Quoting Dream Head Coach Nicki Collen
(On the difference between the first and second half)
"Indiana, look at all of their games though. You can look at the Connecticut game, even they lost that game big. They tied or won three of the four quarters but had one bad quarter. Sometimes that's enough in this league, if you get out-scored significantly. I thought early we moved the ball, we made shots, we got the ball inside. We really moved the ball well. I think the ball stuck in the third quarter. They iced our ball screens. We didn't make the extra pass and kind of forced some things. The combination of forcing some things, some turnovers, led to some leak-outs and some threes. And (Victoria) Vivians, if she should play against us every night she'd be Rookie of the Year."
(On Brittney Sykes)
"She certainly carried us early. Her first start of the year, she really responded. Really got us going early. The threes, especially, because she hasn't shot the three-ball well this season. She's one of those players that's certainly is streaky and gets hot and she did. Didn't have tons of baskets in the second half, got the first basket of the third quarter, but then (Tiffany) Hayes took over late. You we had people step up big time, even (Jessica) Breland's one basket was a really good late possession where we drove baseline, made the extra and made the right play."
Quoting the Dream's Brittney Sykes
(On her energy level)
"I felt good, just coming out with a lot of energy. Coach put me in the starting line up, so I just wanted to make sure I continued to do the things I was doing and just helping my teammates."
(On her blocked shot)
"It was just credit to my team. they always have our backs. And we try to block a shot every game, guard wise. We have E (Elizabeth Williams), who is in the paint. Imani's (McGee-Stafford) a tremendous shot blocker. (Jessica Breland) is a tremendous shot blocker, but when me and Tiff (Tiffany Hayes) get those blocks, it's extra exciting. A little energy went in to that, but that's what we live to do, exciting plays. This is the WNBA. Only 144 women can play in this league, so we try to make it as exciting as possible."
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