Michael Cooper made another change to his starting lineup Friday night and the move paid off. Tiffany Hayes started in place of rookie Shoni Schimmel and finished with a team-high 20 points as the Atlanta Dream snapped a two-game losing streak with an 80-69 win over the Seattle Storm.
Once again Atlanta opened the game rather sluggishly as the pace was much more to the liking of the Storm. Seattle scored the first five points of the game prompting a quick timeout from Cooper and the rest of the half was a grind it out defensive affair that Storm coach Brian Agler was looking for. Angel McCoughtry's runner at the halftime buzzer gave Atlanta a 36-35 lead.
Atlanta used a 10-0 run in the third quarter to take the lead heading to the fourth. Seattle began the final quarter with a run and tied the game 61-61 but Atlanta would outscore Seattle 19-8 over the final five minutes to secure the victory.
Hayes put up her best game of the young season with 20 points, five rebounds and three assists. She hit 6-9 field goals and was 6-7 from the free throw line. McCoughtry finished with 18 points and eight assists but was just 8-20 from the field and was saddled with six turnovers.
Atlanta's inside tandem of Sancho Lyttle and Erika de Souza put up another solid effort in the win. Lyttle logged a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. De Souza chipped in 14 points and eight boards. Jasmine Thomas finished with 11 points. Rookie Shoni Schimmel played 18 minutes off the bench but finished with just two points and one assist.
Atlanta did an excellent job defensively against Storm point guard Sue Bird who finished with just three points and four assists on 1-8 shooting. Crystal Langhorne led the Storm with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Tameka Johnson came off the bench to score 13. Seattle hit a season-best eight three-pointers but turned the ball over 20 times which helped the Dream to a 15-5 edge in fast break points.
The Dream improve to 3-2 on the season and are 1.5 games behind Chicago for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. They will have a travel day on Saturday before taking on Connecticut in an afternoon matchup on Sunday.