It isn't often that a player gets to redeem themselves from two missed free throws in the closing minutes of a close game but that is exactly what happened to Sancho Lyttle in the Atlanta Dream's 92-90 victory over the Indiana Fever. With score knotted up at 90-90, Lyttle corralled a rebound of a Tamika Catchings three-point attempt and was fouled with just 29 seconds to go in the game. Lyttle stepped to the line and promptly missed both attempts giving Indiana a shot to the break the tie.
On the next possession, Indiana's Tamika Catchings ran the clock down before using a screen in an attempt to get an open look. Angel McCoughtry and Sancho Lyttle trapped Catchings who forced a pass inside that was stolen by Armintie Price who pushed the ball into the front court. Price found Lyttle on the wing who pulled up and hit the jump shot giving Atlanta a 92-90 lead with less than a second left. The timing on the trap at the defensive end was flawless and the Dream turned it into yet another improbable win.
This was a tightly contested game with playoff intensity as Indiana was looking to avoid its third straight loss to the Dream this season. Atlanta led 23-19 after one but Indiana rallied back to lead 49-46 at halftime. The Dream appeared to be in trouble mid-way through the third when Erika de Souza went down with an ankle injury while chasing a loose ball. She had to be helped from the court and later left the Atlanta bench area with the aid of crutches and did not return to the game. Without de Souza in the lineup, Indiana took a 73-69 lead into the fourth.
Indiana built as much as a six point lead in the fourth before the Dream would come roaring back. Without her starting center, coach Marynell Meadors elected to go with a small lineup on the floor with Sancho Lyttle playing center and Angel McCoughtry at the power forward position. McCoughtry hit a pull up three pointer with 1:39 on the clock that tied the game at 88-88 and set the final sequence for Sancho Lyttle's heroics.
Angel McCoughtry finished with 28 points on 11 of 21 shooting. Sancho Lyttle finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, and three steals. Armintie Price finished with 16 points while Lindsey Harding tossed in 11 points and six assists. Iziane Castro Marques played 18 minutes off the bench and was once again on the floor at crunch time in Atlanta's small lineup.
Erin Phillips led Indiana with 21 points while Tamika Catchings finished with 20 points and seven rebounds. Katie Douglas netted 15.
The victory is Atlanta's 13th in their last 17 games and pushes their lead over the Chicago Sky for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference to 2.5 games. At 16-13, Atlanta is just three games behind Indiana for first place in the Eastern Conference.
For more on the Atlanta Dream and the WNBA Playoff Race, be sure and check out Swish Appeal.