INDIANAPOLIS -- Tangela Smith scored 25 points to lead the Indiana Fever to an 82-74 victory over the Atlanta Dream on Thursday night in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Tamika Catchings, announced as the league's most valuable player earlier in the day, added 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Fever.
Atlanta's Angel McCoughtry, second in the league in scoring during the regular season, was held to 11 points -- about 10.5 below her average. She played just 17 minutes and was in foul trouble throughout. Atlanta had swept the regular-season series with the Fever 4-0, and McCoughtry averaged nearly 24 points in those games.
Lindsey Harding scored 17 points and Sancho Lyttle had 14 for the Dream.
Game 2 of the best-of-3 series will be played Sunday in Atlanta.
Smith made 5 of 7 3-pointers and had nine rebounds and four blocks. She didn't score more than 16 points in any regular-season game this year.
Indiana made 23 of 27 free throws, while Atlanta made just 9 of 17.
The score was tied at 57 at the end of the third quarter.
A 3-pointer by Smith gave Indiana a 63-59 lead with 7:17 remaining.
McCoughtry was called for a charge with 5:35 left, her fifth of the game and the third time Catchings drew a charge from McCoughtry. Moments after McCoughtry went to the bench, Smith made another 3 to put the Fever ahead 68-62 midway through the fourth quarter.
Catchings sealed the game with another defensive gem. She stole the ball from McCoughtry, then drove more than half the length of the court, spun through contact and made a behind-the-head layup off the backboard that gave the Fever a 74-66 lead.
Moments later, Catchings drove and drew McCoughtry's sixth foul. McCoughtry had words for the officials as the game ended.
Indiana led 42-40 at halftime in an entertaining first 20 minutes that saw little production from the stars on either team. McCoughtry sat for much of the second quarter with two fouls and had just four points at the break. Catchings had four points on 0-for-3 shooting and Indiana's Katie Douglas had five points on 2-for-8 shooting.
Atlanta tied the game in the opening minutes of the second half, but Indiana responded with a drive by Catchings and a 3-pointer by Smith.
Catchings got the better of her matchup with McCoughtry twice in a short span. First, she took a charge on McCoughtry's third foul. Then, less than a minute later, Catchings drove aggressively and McCoughtry was called for a block, her fourth foul, with 7:15 left in the third quarter.