Wheeler's Late Layup Propels Fever Past Dream, 61-59
Erica Wheeler's layup with 11.9 seconds left broke a 59-59 tie and ended up being the game-winning basket. It was the Fever's only made field goal in the fourth quarter (1-of-11).
Indiana held Atlanta scoreless for the final 4:18 and scored the last seven points. Five of those seven points came from the free throw line.
Atlanta opened the fourth quarter on a 17-5 run to take a 59-54 lead with 4:18 left. Indiana responded by scoring seven unanswered points to end the game.
With the game tied at 20 midway through the second quarter, the Fever closed the first half on a 12-5 run. A 7-1 spurt gave them a 32-25 advantage after 20 minutes.
Erica Wheeler paced the Fever with 15 points. Wheeler has led Indiana in scoring each of the last four games.
Teaira McCowan (10 points, 14 rebounds) posted her fifth double-double of the season. McCowan has 29 rebounds in two games against Atlanta.
McCowan pulled down at least 10 boards for the eighth time in the last 14 games. She has scored at least 10 points in three straight games.
Candice Dupree hit the 522nd field goal of her Fever career in the third quarter. The jumper moved her past Shavonte Zellous (521) for sixth in franchise history.
Dupree finished with 12 points and five rebounds. She has reached double figures in four of her last five contests.
The Dream's 25 points in the first half were the fewest conceded by the Fever in the opening 20 minutes this season. Indiana held Atlanta to 25.6 percent shooting (10-of-39) in the first half.
The Dream shot 28.9 percent, the lowest percentage for Fever opponent this season. Indiana held an opponent under 60 points for the second time this year.
Erica Wheeler recorded a career-high five steals. The Fever tied their season high with 11 steals as a team.
Indiana snapped a three-game losing streak to the Dream. The Fever have won five of the last six meetings between the teams in Indianapolis.
The Fever surpassed their home and overall win totals from the entire 2018 season with the victory.
Atlanta tied its season low with 25 first-half points. It was the fourth time in 2019 the Dream had 25 points at halftime.
Elizabeth Williams tied her season high with 17 points, 11 of which came in the third quarter. Williams has now reached double figures nine times and led Atlanta in scoring five times.
Indianapolis native Alex Bentley came off the bench and tied her season high with 12 points. Bentley scored seven points in the fourth quarter.
Monique Billings (12 rebounds) and Jessica Breland (11 rebounds) accounted for 23 of the Dream's 44 total rebounds.
Renee Montgomery reached 500 made three-pointers in her career with one on Wednesday. She is just the 13th player in the WNBA to reach this milestone, and the fifth active player in the league with 500 made three-pointers.
Head Coach Pokey Chatman
"The number that stands out to me on the stat sheet is 59 [Atlanta points]. It took all of us. And it was ugly. But it was 'B-E-U-ti-ful! What also stood out was we got to the line 26 times, but the bottom line was we got the W. It took every one of us, but we go the W."
(on final play and on Erica Wheeler)
"We wanted to get the ball in the middle of the floor, and go with about 10 seconds. We wanted E-dub to have the ball in her hand. We wanted her to make a read, not necessarily take the shot. That girl has some courage! It was fitting to come off her MVP weekend that she hit the game-winner back home tonight."
(on play of Betnijah Laney)
"I know offense is sexy, but even when the Warriors won the NBA title, they won it with defense. You have to play defense and 'B' is our most valuable defensive player. She means so much to us, even when she's only 1-for-9. She guards the best player, she gets hustle rebounds, she creates havoc. She does all the dirty little things to make us a better team, even when she doesn't score."
"For the first time this season, we held it together. Just tried to make sure we overcommunicated with each other. Make sure everybody knew where they were supposed to be in our defensive schemes, execute offensively down the stretch. There were a couple times where we got stops and couldn't convert on the other end. So just kind of clean that up. But we kept fighting."
"It's great to start off post All-Star break with a win. And it's been a while since we had a win. So hopefully we can continue to feed off this energy and get ready for Minnesota on Saturday."
"I think we needed that break. And then me making MVP and coming back bringing the energy to my team. You know, we've got a wave right now and it's our wave. The whole world is watching me so that means they're watching my team. So, we just gotta ride this wave and play one game at a time and do the things that we need to do."
Head Coach Nicki Collen
"I thought both teams played really hard. I thought it was somewhat of a game of runs. I was proud of kind of our second unit for really battling and taking the lead in the fourth. I thought we got messy for that stretch of three minutes and didn't necessarily get the shots or work for great shots. I thought we battled. I thought Erica Wheeler made a huge play. [Teaira] McCowan was probably the difference in terms of keeping us from scoring around the rim."
"Proud of my teammates for playing hard. We always fight, we always play hard. We just couldn't see anything go in. It's frustrating but you just gotta stay in the gym, get more shots up and stay confident when we pull it."
"Defensively, you hold somebody to 61 points, you feel pretty good. We just to put the ball in the basket at the end of the day. I think we went 5-of-23 from the three and we missed so many uncontested shots and layups that we didn't give ourselves a real cushion at the end. We also could have executed better at the end of the game, so it's tough. I mean, you get yourself in a one-possession game at the end, you really want to finish it out."
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