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No. 1 pick Rhyne Howard drops 33 as Dream edge Fever

Oct 10, 2021; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; A view of the offical game ball during the second half of game one of the 2021 WNBA Finals between the Phoenix Mercury and the Chicago Sky at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

First overall draft pick Rhyne Howard scored 17 of her 33 points in the first quarter to lead the visiting Atlanta Dream to an 85-79 win Sunday over the Indiana Fever in Indianapolis.

Howard’s two free throws with 20 seconds left helped seal the win, putting Atlanta ahead 83-79. Nia Coffey, who finished with 14 points, made two free throws with 11.9 seconds left to increase the margin.

Leading up to that, Cheyenne Parker made consecutive attempts from the field to give Atlanta an 81-76 lead with 55.3 seconds left and Indiana’s Kelsey Mitchell made three free throws with 47.2 seconds remaining.

Parker and Aari McDonald each had 11 points and Monique Billings scored 10.

Mitchell, who made all four of her 3-point attempts, finished with 27 points.

Indiana’s NaLyssa Smith, who had 18 points and six rebounds, left the game with a right ankle injury with 6:29 left and the Fever trailing 69-64.

Atlanta outscored Indiana 16-3 to start the second half, taking a 52-39 lead with 6:31 left in the third quarter.

The Fever then scored 12 unanswered points, capped by a 3-pointer by Mitchell, to cut the lead to 52-51 with 3:13 remaining in the quarter.

McDonald stopped that run with a 3-pointer, sparking the Dream to again build a lead of 59-51.

Howard scored 17 of Atlanta’s 21 points in the first quarter on 6 of 9 shots from the field, including 2 of 4 from 3-point range.

Her production helped the Dream take a 21-20 lead heading into the second quarter.

After Atlanta built its lead to 35-29 with 3:01 left in the second quarter, Indiana rallied to tie the game at 36 going into halftime. Howard missed the three shots she attempted in the second quarter and only scored on three free throws.

Mitchell led Indiana with 15 points at the half on 5-of-11 shooting from the field.

The Fever, who achieved a franchise-record 57 rebounds in their 92-86 win at the New York Liberty on Friday, were outrebounded 21-14 in the first half Sunday. Atlanta won the rebounding battle 32-29 for the game.

–Field Level Media