The Indiana Fever have remained competitive during the most challenging portion of their schedule, but they continue to suffer from late collapses.
They’ll have a chance to avenge their latest setback Tuesday night when they visit the East-leading Atlanta Dream for their second matchup in three days.
Indiana (6-9) has dropped four in a row and is trying to avoid its first five-game skid since a seven-game losing streak to open the 2013 season. However, three of its last four contests have come against the league’s top three teams in Phoenix, Minnesota and Atlanta (11-4), which owns the conference’s best record.
The Fever have held a second-half lead in each contest during their slide. They forced four straight turnovers at one point in the fourth quarter Sunday against Atlanta, going on a 7-0 run to take a three-point edge with 3:53 left. However, they missed their next shot and two free throws before Angel McCoughtry made a 3-pointer as part of Atlanta’s game-ending 11-0 run in Indiana’s 76-68 loss.
"We’re not taking care of business at the end of the ballgame," Indiana coach Lin Dunn told the team’s official website. "It’s very disappointing because I thought we played hard enough and tough enough against a really, really good team to win the game."
Leading scorer Shavonte Zellous scored 18 and is averaging 21.2 points over her last four, but Briann January scored just nine on 3-of-9 shooting. January totaled 36 points over the clubs’ first two matchups – 16 in an 82-77 win in Atlanta on May 25, and 20 in a 90-88 home loss on May 17.
The Dream are a league-best 7-1 at home but have plenty of respect for the Fever following Sunday’s victory, Atlanta’s eighth in nine games.
"I tip my hat to this Indiana team," coach Michael Cooper said. "This is a team that’s fighting, and they’re definitely better than their record…We’re very fortunate and lucky to get the win."
McCoughtry finished with 20 points and is averaging 22.0 in the three meetings.
"Once I get my focus, I can knock anything down," McCoughtry said after a slow first half. "I hit a 3, made a couple of plays to get us going and found my rhythm."
Indiana claimed a 37-30 rebounding advantage Sunday but shot 38.1 percent from the field and committed 18 turnovers.
An Atlanta win would clinch its third season series victory in four years.