The Atlanta Dream got off to a slow start but used a big second half to earn their 12th victory of the season with an 86-73 defeat of the Washington Mystics.
We talked about how important pace and defense was to Michael Cooper's club in the preview and this game signified that perfectly. It was a grind it out pace during the first half that had the game tied 40-40 at the intermission. Washington shot 50 percent from the field during the first 20 minutes while Atlanta opted for missing long jump shots.
Atlanta flipped the script in the second half by cranking up the defense and their defense. The Dream held the Mystics to 38 percent shooting in the second half and got out on the break scoring 14 fastbreak points. Atlanta stopped settling for jumpshots and attacked the paint and Washington could do little to stop them. The Mystics missed eight of their last nine shot attempts while Atlanta used a late 10-2 surge to put the game away.
Sancho Lyttle led five different Dream players in double figures with 18 points. Angel McCoughtry and Tiffany Hayes each finished 16 points each although neither shot the ball well. McCoughtry finished 5-14 from the field while Hayes was 6-15.
Erika de Souza scored 10 of her 12 points in the second half and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds. Rookie Shoni Schimmel came off the bench to score 11 and was 3-7 from three-point range. Atlanta was just 5-22 from deep in the game and converted just 11-21 attempts at the free throw line but only turned the ball over nine times.
Emma Meesseman scored 10 of her 18 points in the fourth quarter to try and keep the Mystics close. Ivory Latta added 12 while Kara Lawson chipped in 10 off the bench. Washington finished with 16 turnovers which led to 17 points for the Dream.
With the win, Atlanta improves to 12-5 on the season and opens up a four game lead over second place Connecticut in the East standings. The Dream will host the Sun on Tuesday in a nationally televised contest from Georgia Tech's McCamish Pavilion.