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Dream eliminates defending champ Fever

INDIANAPOLIS – Angel McCoughtry led Atlanta to its third WNBA Finals spot in four years, scoring 27 points in the Dream’s 67-53 victory over the Indiana Fever on Sunday.

Seeking their first title, the Dream swept the best-of-three Eastern Conference finals. They will face the winner of the Western Conference series between Minnesota and Phoenix.

Dream center Erika de Souza added 12 points and eight rebounds. Atlanta dominated inside, making 14 layups, scoring 48 points in the paint and controlling the glass, 43-33.

Tamika Catchings led Indiana with 24 points and six rebounds. The short-handed Fever were trying to become the first team to win consecutive titles since Los Angeles in 2001 and 2002.

Atlanta dominated the second half behind smothering defense. Indiana shot 28.1 percent for the game and went 7 for 32 after intermission. All-Star Shavonte Zellous was held to six points, nearly nine below her regular- season average.

McCoughtry was the league’s scoring champion and made the all-WNBA second team. She averaged 21.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists. On Sunday, she was at her best, making 10 of 21 shots and going 6 for 6 at the line.

The Dream led 34-33 after a tight first half marked by five ties and 14 lead changes.

Indiana led 33-28 with under a minute to play in the half but came undone. McCoughtry made a short jumper and Briann January had a pass stolen, fouling Jasmine Thomas to stop the fast break. Catchings received a technical foul, leading to McCoughtry’s free throw, and Atlanta’s Armintie Herrington converted a three-point play with 3 seconds left.