(ATLANTA) – The injury bug is always looking for new blood. This time it was Atlanta’s turn to get bitten, as Dream guards Tiffany Hayes (knee) and Armintie Herrington (concussion) would both be scratched for the game against the visiting Washington Mystics. Despite their absence, the Dream held out until a late push by the Mystics sent the game into overtime and gave Washington an 85-80 win.
“That was a crazy game,” Mystics head coach Mike Thibault said. “I don’t know if anyone ever got control of it. We kind of let them off the hook early and we made plays at the end when we needed to.”
Neither team bedecked itself in glory after the tip-off. Each team had four first-quarter turnovers and the Mystics shot 6-for-18, unable to take advantage. Atlanta worked hard moving the ball around the perimeter with point guards Jasmine Thomas and Alex Bentley both in the starting lineup and combining for 11 first-quarter points. Bentley hit a jumper at the first quarter buzzer to put the Dream up 17-16.
“It’s a good lineup, quick lineup,” Atlanta Dream head coach Fred Williams said of Bentley and Thomas. “Maybe not with size and stuff, but it’s a quick lineup to come up with some easy baskets. It’s just a matter of the players just really getting familiar with each other.”
Bentley would pick her third foul early in the second, but the Dream held together on defense – even without guard/forward Angel McCoughtry they played well as a unit with Aneika Henry contributing six rebounds in the second quarter. But defense can be ugly and most of the first half was ugly, with a decided lack of offensive rhythm from either team. Dream center Erika de Souza ended a turnover-filled half with an offensive rebound to tie the game at 33-33 and Washington went into the locker room with a halftime technical foul on Mystics guard Ivory Latta.
“Sometimes you say things and get out of character,” Latta said, “but you don’t necessarily mean it in a hateful way. I’m just fighting for my team.”
Mystics center Kia Vaughn and forward Monique Currie would add technical fouls in the third quarter to Washington’s tally, and Washington would call a full timeout just three minutes into the half.
“I do not know why Kia Vaughn got one,” Thibault said. “She didn’t curse or show out she just said ‘Come on Amy [Bonner]’”. I don’t like the one on Mo Currie but it is part of the rules.” The rule violated was the “flail rule” that prohibits any contact above the shoulders.
The timeout didn’t seem to help as McCoughtry decided to get warmed up, hitting Atlanta’s first three pointer of the game as part of a 9-2 Atlanta run that put the Dream up 47-39 with 5:05 remaining – their biggest lead of the game – but the Mystics answered with an 8-0 run to tie it back up. McCoughtry scored a basket – her 21st point of the game – to end the quarter and give the Dream a 60-57 lead.
Atlanta would hold on to a tenuous lead until late in the fourth quarter. Up 72-65 with 2:20 left, McCoughtry coughed up the ball a couple of times and the Mystics closed within three points. Having the ball and leading 74-73 with 22 seconds left, Williams called two back-to-back 20 second time outs.
“I only had three seconds to get across the time line in the back court,” Williams said, “and the WNBA rule is if you call another timeout, you can advance it out in the front court. So I didn’t want the three seconds called on me. I wanted to get it up front.”
Bentley hit two free throws to put the Dream up 76-73 with 13.8 seconds left. The Mystics needed a 3-pointer and the ball found itself in the hands of Monique Currie, who tied the game with 6.4 seconds left on the clock and sent it into overtime.
“We’ve been kidding Monique Currie,” Thibault said. “She’s made a couple of pseudo-threes the last couple of weeks with her toe on the line. When she was getting ready to hit it, I was looking to see if the feet were behind the line.”
In the overtime, a drive by McCoughtry was stopped by forward Michelle Snow, and McCoughtry landed awkwardly on her right ankle. As McCoughtry was left behind, the ball went to the other end of the floor where Mystics guard Tayler Hill hit a 3-pointer. McCoughtry hobbled off the court and Washington never looked back.
Four players from Washington scored in double figures. Currie and Latta had 15 points each. Mystics center Crystal Langhorne added 10 points and 10 rebounds and Tayler Hill scored 15 points off the bench.
For Atlanta, McCoughtry led all game scorers with 23 points. Erika de Souza added her 14th double double with 15 points and 14 rebounds, and her 12th double-double in the last 15 games. Jasmine Thomas and Alex Bentley combined for 26 points and 13 assists. Aneika Henry scored 10 points and 9 rebounds, one shy of her career high in rebounds.
* Washington is 3-1 over its last four road games.
* The Dream are 1-8 without Tiffany Hayes in the lineup.
* Washington goes to 8-3 on the season in games decided by five points or less.
* Mike Thibault on the both teams in-the-paint performance (28 for Washington, 32 for Atlanta): “We should have had some. We missed layups in the first half. Both teams tried to take the paint away from each other and make people make jump shots. Jasmine and Angel made a few, but it was one of those ones where whoever could make two or three outside shots in a row had a chance to win.”
* Thibault on Washington’s record in close games: “This team is learning to be resilient, a year ago from watching them afar these are the games they couldn’t win but we found a way to win those this year.”
* Thibault on Washington not playing again until September 6th: “I don’t like it this late in the season but every team has gaps, ours is just at an awkward time.”
* Thibault on Ivory Latta’s technical: “She said something to Mike Price at the end of the half. She probably deserved it.”
* Fred Williams on the Dream’s three-point shooting woes (2-for-14 in this game): “It’s hard to come by. We’re still trying to find our way there in that area. I think our inside game looks good with Erika getting double-doubles for us, and we still have to get the basketball inside more.”
* Williams on McCoughtry’s injury: “She rolled her ankle a little bit at the end of the game. I think they’re going to ice it up and get it x-rayed.”
* Williams on Herrington and the number of games a player loses if they have a concussion: “It’s actually one game, but she had it during the game, so there’s a certain amount of days and testing she has to go through over a five-day period.”