Atlanta, Ga- The Atlanta Dream (9-9) got back to .500 after a 76-70 victory over the Phoenix Mercury (14-6) on Sunday.
The Dream jumped out to an 8-0 lead to start the game. They grabbed every missed shot (13 of them) in the first quarter and got down the court putting pressure on the Mercury’s defense. Up and down the court they went, using their speed and quickness to jumpstart the offense.
Diana Taurasi tried to keep Phoenix in the game singlehandedly by scoring 15 points in the first half going 4-7 from downtown. Phoenix’s second leading scorer Brittney Griner was frustrated by the Dream’s defense. A multitude of defenders and double teams held her to just eight points and two rebounds in the first half.
Griner let her frustration show resulting in a technical foul with 1:51 left in the second quarter.
Dream’s forward Elizabeth Williams matched up against Griner for the bulk of the game and finished with 10 points and six blocked shots. The Dream led by 11 at halftime 44-33
Atlanta started the second half on a 10-3 run as their jump shots continued to fall. Angel McCoughtry scored a few baskets during that run and finished with 10 points and six rebounds.
The Dream’s bench provided plenty of rest for the starters led by Brittany Sykes 13 points. They provided a huge spark and kept the lead for Atlanta. At one point, the lineup featured all reserve players with the Dream still rolling.
Atlanta made the most of their wide open shots while Phoenix just simply couldn’t find the bottom of the net for most of the game. The Mercury shot 36% from the field and 32.3% from three-point range.
Atlanta’s leading scorer Tiffany Hayes took over in the second half. After only five first half points, she scored ten in the third quarter and finished with 18 overall.
The fourth quarter seemed to play out differently as the Mercury cut what was a 21-point lead to as little as five.
Phoenix outscored the Dream 22-11 in the fourth quarter and made the game real tight at the end. Taurasi finished with 19 points going 5-11 from downtown but went 0-3 from behind the arc in the fourth.
Griner finished with 18 points and six rebounds but didn’t look as comfortable in the paint as she usually does. Free throws by Williams and Hayes in the closing seconds sealed the game for Atlanta.
Atlanta outscored the Mercury 30-18 in the paint and 13-4 in fast break points.
The Dream’s defense held the Mercury’s three leading scorers Griner, Taurasi, and DeWanna Bonner (9 points) below their scoring averages on the season.
Atlanta’s next game is July 11th in Washington versus the Mystics.