ATLANTA (AP) - The Atlanta Dream's 3-9 start is now a distant memory. The defending Eastern Conference champs are one of the best teams in the WNBA again.
Angel McCoughtry had 28 points and Sancho Lyttle hit a short jumper with 0.9 seconds left to give the Dream a 92-90 victory over the first-place Indiana Fever on Tuesday night.
Indiana clinched a berth in the WNBA playoffs despite the loss. But Indiana (19-10) has dropped all three games to the Dream (16-13) this season.
``We have amazing spirit on this team,' coach Marynell Meadors said of the Dream's turnaround. ``I'm very proud of them. There were many times when they could have folded up.'
The Dream trailed 88-83 with just over 2 minutes left, but took advantage of a steal by Armintie Price with about 6 seconds left to race downcourt for the winning shot by Lyttle, who had 14 points and 11 rebounds.
``I was just trying to go as fast as I could and I thought that Sancho would be there on my right,' Price said. ``We can talk without talking, we know each other so well.'
Lyttle had missed two free throws with 29.9 seconds remaining. ``I couldn't miss that shot,' she said of the winner. ``Nobody wanted to go to overtime.'
Erin Phillips had 21 points and Tamika Catchings scored 20 for Indiana. But the Fevor turned over the ball 19 times.
``We had way too many turnovers and the game ended on a turnover,' said Indiana coach Lin Dunn, whose team shot 50 percent.
Price had 16 points, but it is her defense that always sets her apart.
``She just seemed to know where the ball was going to go,' Meadors said of Price's heist of Catchings' pass. ``She is one of the best defensive players in the league.'
The Dream, in fourth place a half-game behind New York, won despite losing leading rebounder and second-leading scorer Erika de Souza to a right ankle sprain midway through the third quarter. De Souza, who averages 12.7 points and 7.9 rebounds, had nine points and four rebounds when she was hurt.
``I thought our defense really tightened up in the last few minutes,' said Meadors, whose team has won eight of its past 10 games.
Dunn felt that a pivotal moment came early in the fourth quarter, when the Fever drew a flagrant foul that the Dream turned into four points. ``I really thought that was a bad call,' the coach said.
``I think we played hard, just not smart in certain situations,' Catchings said.
Indiana was 4 for 7 on 3-pointers while taking a 49-46 halftime lead. Catchings had 11 first-half points and Shavonte Zelious came off the bench to score nine, all in the second quarter.
The Fever jumped to a 15-9 lead, but the Dream went on a 10-0 run and were up 23-19 at the end of the first quarter. Price had seven points and Lyttle scored six in the period for the Dream, the pair combining to shoot 6 for 7 from the floor.
The Dream outshot the Fever 55 percent to 39.2 percent while winning 86-80 on Saturday in Indiana, and took the teams' first meeting in Atlanta 84-74 on July 19. The teams finish the regular season in Indiana on Sept. 11.
``They came into our gym and basically kicked our butts and we wanted to come to their gym and basically do the same thing,' Indiana's Phillips said. ``But that didn't happen.'
``This team has a lot of heart,' McCoughtry said. ``We showed that again tonight and we've shown it all season. When you have struggles in the beginning, it makes winning so much better.'
The Associated Press News Service
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