After a surprising 86-79 defeat at Philips Arena against the Washington Mystics, the Atlanta Dream looked to get back to their winning ways against a familiar WNBA Finals rival in the Minnesota Lynx. The Lynx, who claimed the 2015 WNBA title, entered tonight’s game with a Western Conference best 8-0 start to the season.
Unfortunately, they would have to play without the services of Sancho Lyttle, who is currently competing in Spain in the 2016 FIBA Olympic Women’s Basketball Qualifier. Minnesota is led by Maya Moore, who currently leads the league in scoring, averaging 21.0 points per game, and the Lynx present a solid supporting cast of Seimone Augustus, Sylvia Fowles, and Lindsay Whalen. With that strong collection of talent, the Lynx are back to championship form once again. Unfortunately, Friday night’s game wouldn’t be in Atlanta’s favor.
In the first half, the Dream played Minnesota well, scoring 45 points prior to the break, which was the most scored by a Minnesota opponent in any half this season. Also, the Dream’s 24-point second quarter tied for the most tallied by a Lynx opponent in the second period this season. Tiffany Hayes posted 13 points in the first half, 11 of which came from the charity stripe which saw her total an 11-of-12 over the opening 20 minutes. Angel McCoughtry scored 12 of her 14 first-half points in the second quarter.
Despite a strong showing by Atlanta in the first half, the Dream trailed 46-45 at the half and that would be the last time the contest was competitive. In the third quarter, the Lynx posted 32 points in the third quarter which was the most scored against Atlanta in any quarter this season, additionally it was the most the Lynx has scored in any quarter this season.
The first half featured 11 ties and nine lead changes before Minnesota took control with a 32-18 edge in the third quarter. In the third quarter, Minnesota shot 12-of-18 (66.7%). In the fourth, Atlanta couldn’t recover as the Minnesota Lynx won 110-78, which was the largest series win against the Atlanta Dream for the franchise. The 32-point margin of defeat is the second largest in Atlanta Dream history and the 110 points allowed were the second most in franchise history as well. Definitely wasn’t a good night for our ladies at Philips Arena.
Tiffany Hayes’ 23 points marked her seventh double-figure scoring effort this season, her fifth in the last six games. Angel McCoughtry’s 22 points extended her streak of double-digit scoring efforts to 24 consecutive games.
After the game, Coach Cooper credited the Lynx by stating “You play Minnesota and you see what’s going on out there and you see us back here. What we saw tonight was the true makings of a championship team. The way Minnesota plays, I thought we did a good job. In the first half we were hanging with them, but we were up plus 7 on the boards and they came back and rectified that. As Pat Riley use to say, ‘no rebounds, no rings’.”
For the Lynx, Maya Moore led the team in scoring with 19 points and four steals, Sylvia Fowles had 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Jia Perkins scored all 18 of her points in the second and decisive half. Lindsay Whalen added a season-high 17 points while role players Natasha Howard and Renee Montgomery posted 13 each.
Atlanta will welcome the Connecticut Sun on Sunday, June 12 for a 3:00 pm ET start at Philips Area, before closing out the season-long four-game home stand on Friday, June 17 against reigning WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne and the Chicago Sky (7:30 pm ET). Stay tuned.