Despite a controversial call in the waning moments, the Atlanta Dream were able to overcome it and defeat the Chicago Sky, as Angel McCoughtry nailed the game-winner.
Chicago recovered from an ineffective start offensively, but even after being gifted a point by the basketball gods in the final minutes of the game, they could not finish the comeback, losing to the Dream 74-73 on a buzzer beater by Angel McCoughtry.
With 1:42 left in the fourth, Elena Delle Donne drew the foul on Sancho Lyttle while shooting a layup under the basket. The referees signaled for a blocking foul, but mistakenly counted the missed basket, awarding Delle Donne one free throw which she made.
That mistake brought the Sky within one point, and Courtney Vandersloot’s jumper one possession later gave the Sky the lead.
But the Dream would get their revenge. Roneeka Hodges found McCoughtry with 1.1 seconds left on the left wing, and she drained the jumper over Cappie Pondexter for the win.
“Refs said it went in and it did not go in,” said Atlanta Dream coach Michael Cooper referring to the controversial call. “So again, they said they did not have the ability to replay, but then they replayed Angel’s last second shot, so I couldn’t understand that.
“We got the win. That’s all that matters.”
McCoughtry finished the game with 18 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, and 3 steals, in a game where her aggressiveness on both ends of the floor set the tone for her team early. She had 9 points and 2 steals in the first quarter alone.
The Dream were in attack mode early in the game, constantly pushing the ball up the floor and working the ball into the paint. Their active hands on defense resulted in seven steals in the first quarter, a theme that would continue throughout the game.
“Their obviously great at forcing turnovers and playing in the passing lanes,” Delle Donne said of the defensive pressure, “which sometimes can force you out of your offensive flow.”
Atlanta’s aggressiveness forced other players to step up on offense. Betnijah Laney had a career game, scoring ten points, and playing extremely well on defense, accumulating three steals and two blocks after spending most of the game guarding Angel McCoughtry.
Though her emergence might come as a surprise to some Delle Donne and the Sky expected nothing less, saying “Laney’s been playing that way all preseason, and we knew at some point we were going to have to fall on her.”
Atlanta coach Michael Cooper’s game plan was to force the ball out of Elena Delle Donne’s hands, a strategy that worked early. Chicago was knocked out of their offensive rhythm, and didn’t score their first field goal until more than halfway into the opening quarter.
Though the offense was stagnant, Delle Donne cited the team’s defensive struggles as a cause. “More than anything, our defense is what makes our offense go, and we didn’t have a good start defensively.” The Dream had their highest scoring quarter in the first with 21 points.
Delle Donne would finish the contest with a line of 26 points and three rebounds, including a perfect 9-9 night from the free throw line. Unfortunately, the effort resulted in heartbreak.
Chicago falls to 2-3 on the season and will try to get to .500 tomorrow against the San Antonio Stars