The Atlanta Dream returned to Philips Arena Friday night for an Eastern Conference matchup against Elena Delle Donne and the Chicago Sky. The Dream entered the game with a half-game lead in the East Standings over theNew York Liberty. Atlanta snapped a two-game losing streak last time out with a 93-87 win over the Connecticut Sun. Williams is leading the WNBA in blocks and is coming off a 20-point, 10-rebound effort in the Dream's win over Connecticut on Sunday. McCoughtry had 18 points in the win over the Sun. She has scored in double figures in 25 straight games and is second in the WNBA in scoring, averaging 20.3 points per game. Atlanta played without the service of Sancho Lyttle who is currently competing in Spain in the 2016 FIBA Olympic Women’s Basketball Qualifier. This is the third of four games Lyttle was expected to miss. Their opponent, the Chicago Sky are coming off a 98-85 loss at the Los Angeles Sparks on Tuesday. Pondexter had 20 points and Delle Donne finished with 15 points on 4-of-12 shooting from the field. In a game that featured 18 ties and 21 lead changes, the Atlanta Dream pulled off a huge overtime victory against Chicago 101-97.
In the first quarter, led by nine points by Courtney Vandersloot, the Sky shot 82% in the quarter and after six first quarter ties, the Sky took a 38-27 lead at the end of the First Quarter. Atlanta was out-rebounded by 8-1 as well. The Dream would shoot 55% for the quarter as well; however, the rebounding woes was a big reason for Chicago’s huge lead early. Atlanta outscored Chicago 30-18 in the paint in the first 20 minutes. After Courtney Vandersloot’s lay-up to give Chicago a 40-29 lead with 9:07 remaining in the half, the Dream went on a 19-8 run and took the lead when Matee Avajon nailed a three pointer to give Atlanta a 49-48 lead with 2:24 remaining before the half. Atlanta and Chicago would exchange three ties and take a competitive game into halftime by a score of 55-55. The 55 points allowed were the most allowed by the Sky in any half this season. The 55 points in the first half marked the most points Atlanta has scored and allowed in any half this season as well. The two teams combined for only 6 turnovers in the first half (Chicago: 4, Atlanta: 2)
In the third quarter, the first half of the quarter was a neck and neck battle between Atlanta and Chicago and the Dream would go on a 11-2 run as Carlita Cortijo scored on a lay-up giving them a 72-63 lead, their biggest lead of the game, with 3:02 remaining in the quarter. Chicago would keep the game close and trim the deficit to 75-69 in a quarter where both teams shot well under 50%. In the fourth quarter, Atlanta and Chicago exchanged baskets for the entire period. Chicago led 87-85 with 1:49 remaining in the quarter as Elena Della Donne scored on a jump-shot. After a few possessions, Angel Mccoughtry tied the game at 87 with two clutch free-throws with 1:31 remaining. After a few possessions with no points by either team, Atlanta took the lead with :31.9 remaining as Tiffany Hayes scored on two free throws. Elena Della Donne tied the game with :19.8 seconds left on a jump shot. Both Atlanta and Chicago missed opportunities to win in regulation and the game went to overtime.
After Tiffany Hayes hit two free throws giving Atlanta a 91-89 lead with 4:44 left in Overtime, Chicago went on a 8-2 run as Cappie Pondexter and Elena Della Donne extended the lead to 97-93 with 2:34 left in the game on Cappie Pondexter free throws. That would be the final time the Sky scored in the contest as Atlanta closed the game on a 8-0 run as Layshia Clarendon, Elizabeth Williams, and Angel Mccoughtry finished the wild game by earning a huge victory. Today’s 101-97 overtime victory improved the Dream to 3-0 this season when requiring extra minutes. Including tonight’s four-point overtime victory, the last six games between the Dream and the Sky have been decided under 6 points. Atlanta now sits at 8-3 and still maintain the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Angel McCoughtry’s 22 points extend her streak of double-digit scoring efforts to 26 consecutive games. Tiffany Hayes tallied 14 points, reaching double figure points for the eighth time this season. Layshia Clarendon tied her career-high with 19 points for the fourth time this season. She has scored double figure points for the third straight game and the eighth time this season. After the game, Clarendon said “Rebounding was huge. They’re big on the boards. I think the last few possessions it was one of our guards who boxed out and got the rebounds, so we just knew the whole game we had to stop letting them get second-chance opportunities. Elizabeth Williams’ 20 points marked her fourth consecutive game with double figure points including seven of her last eight overall, she only had two double figure point games throughout the entire 2015 season. Williams has posted multiple blocks in six straight games, eight of her last nine overall.
After the game, Coach
Michael Cooper discussed the play of the bench stating “I thought our bench did
O.K. I think our bench will be more important tomorrow. I thought our starters
took us all the way down the stretch and that’s where our bench is going to pay
off. I think again with the confidence that they’re having and the things we’re
running for some of the players off the bench, Meghan Simmons for one who can
create some open shots for us, we are going to find success. This is our first
and only back-to-back of the season so it was important that we got this one,
and it’ll be important to go out and get one tomorrow.” One of the key
contributors from the bench in tonight’s game was Matee Ajavon. Ajavon posted
eight points, seven rebounds, two blocks and an assist. Atlanta was +11 during
10 minutes of first-half action when Matee Ajavon was on the floor. After the
contest, Ajavon credited the play of the team late in the game “I think it’s
always great when you get a win. Overall, I’m happy with how we played and
stayed composed even throughout the ups and downs. They went on a run as well
so we just wanted to stay composed.”, Avajon said after the victory.
As the four game home stand is over, Atlanta prepares for a
game against the Washington Mystics at the Verizon Center tomorrow night in
their first and only back to back game of the 2016 season.