The Sports Inquirer attended the postgame presser of the Washington Mystics featuring head coach Mike Thibault along with players Natasha Cloud (9) and Elena Delle Donne (11). Delle Donne had a game-high 32 points and 13 points for a double-double while Cloud scored 13 points with six assists. Topics included thoughts on the win, hitting 11 three-pointers as a team, converting free throw attempts and preserving energy in a playoff series.
By E. Marcel Pourtout, Executive Editor
Behind a game-high 18 points and eight rebounds from Sancho Lyttle, the Atlanta Dream defeated the Washington Mystics 86-73 at Philips Arena on Saturday evening.
Angel McCoughtry and Tiffany Hayes each scored 16 points for the Dream (12-5) while center Erika DeSouza grabbed a game-high nine rebounds along with gaining 12 points.
Atlanta forced Washington (7-12) into 16 turnovers in the contest while only committing nine of its own in the victory.
“We were focused on putting together a complete 40 minutes and playing great defense,” said Atlanta assistant coach Karleen Thompson said. “Everybody contributed well and it was a good team win.”
The game started with the Mystics scoring the first two baskets of the contest. However, Atlanta proceeded to go on a 12-1 run early in the first quarter to take a 12-5 lead. However, the Mystics responded with a 9-2 run of their own to end the quarter only down 21-18 to the home team.
Washington continued its strong play into the second quarter, beginning the frame on a 11-6 run to take its second lead of the contest, 29-27, with 7:54 left in the first half. The teams continued to trade baskets throughout the rest of the frame and the score was tied at 40-40 heading into the third quarter.
Hayes had a game-high 10 points in the first half for Atlanta while Lyttle scored eight points and grabbed three rebounds for the home team. Kia Vaughn, Kara Lawson and Tianna Hawkins each had a team-high eight points for Washington at the half. Mystics’ forward Monique Currie had a game-high four rebounds as well.
The Mystics shot 50% overall from the floor while the Dream struggled, particularly from the three-point line as it only made three of its 12 attempts from long distance.
“We had to make our adjustments by forcing them to put the ball on the floor and not allowing open threes,” said Thompson. On the three-point shot, she stated that “we wanted to go inside out so that we could get open looks and attacking the basket.”
With the score tied at halftime, the Dream outscored the Mystics 26-17 in the third quarter to take a 66-57 lead into the final frame.
Regarding the third quarter, Thompson stated that “we started rebounding the ball well and limiting them to one shot.”
The Dream return to action on Tuesday in another home contest against Connecticut.