Game Preview: Atlanta at Indiana
Location: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Ind.
Game Notes: Atlanta I Indiana
Atlanta (1-0) plays its first road game of the year when the Dream visits the defending WNBA Champion Indiana Fever (1-0) Friday night in Indianapolis. Both teams opened the season with victories, with Atlanta earning a 98-81 home victory over Tulsa, while Indiana won at San Antonio, 79-64.
Tiffany Hayes led five Dream players in double figures in Atlanta’s opener, scoring 21 points off the bench. Sancho Lyttle added 18 points and 10 rebounds, Angel McCoughtry had 16 points, Armintie Herrington 13 and Erika de Souza 10. Herington also had a career-high six steals, while Jasmine Thomas had a team-high six assists in her Dream debut. The Dream shot 52.8 percent from the floor and had a 41-31 rebounding edge.
Indiana had a trio of players share the scoring burden against San Antonio, as Tamika Catching and Shavonte Zellous each had 19 points, and Katie Douglas was right behind with 18 points. Erlana Larkins had a game-high 12 rebounds and chipped in eight points. The Fever relied heavily on the starters, getting just eight points off the bench, while each starter played more than 29 minutes, including three over 33 minutes.
Atlanta and Indiana have had a close series, with Indiana holding a slight 11-10 lead all-time. The home team has had the advantage, with the Fever winning eight of 11 games in Indiana, and Atlanta winning seven of 10 in Philips Arena. The two teams played five times during the 2012 season, with Indiana winning three of those five games. The Dream , however, won the last regular season game against the Fever. The two teams have also met twice in the playoffs, with Indiana winning in the conference semifinals last year, two games to one, while Atlanta won in the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, 2-1..
The Dream stole a 71-64 win in the teams’ last regular-season meeting on Sep. 5, 2012. Lindsey Harding scored 20 points and Angel McCoughtry came off the bench to add 15 to lead Atlanta to its third straight win, while Tiffany Hayes added 12 points and Sancho Lyttle 10. Katie Douglas hit five 3-pointers and scored 23 points for Indiana, while Tamika Catchings added 13 points and nine rebounds. The Fever led 32-29 at the halftime break after controlling most of the first half. The Dream took the momentum early in the second half, and Erika de Souza's putback gave the home team a 35-34 lead with 6:50 left in the third quarter. Back-to-back three-pointers by Douglas gave Indiana a 45-42 lead and the Fever led 52-48 after three quarters, but Atlanta outscored Indiana 23-12 in the fourth quarter to secure the victory.
• The game will be homecoming for Alex Bentley, who grew up in Indiana and led Ben Davis High School to the state title as a senior
• Dream assistant coach Julie Plank spent eight seasons as an assistant coach with the Fever (2000-07)
• Atlanta and Indiana are the only two WNBA teams to post winning records in each of the past four seasons
• Sancho Lyttle was one of just two WNBA players to post a double-double in a season opener
• Armintie Herrington’s career-high six steals against Tulsa were the most by any player in the league during the opening weekend
• Atlanta shot better than 50 percent in the opener against Tulsa. The Dream did that just five times in 2012, going 5-0 in those games