Continuing with a strong defensive showing, the Atlanta Dream defeated the New York Liberty, 75-56, Friday night at Philips Arena, improving to 4-0 on the season. The only other undefeated team is the Minnesota Lynx at 2-0.
The Dream held New York’s Cappie Pondexter to a season-low six points, marking the first time this season she has failed to score in double figure. And when forward Essence Carson injured her right knee with 3:56 left in the first half, and had to be carried off the floor, it only got worse for the Liberty.
Atlanta held the Liberty to 36 percent shooting on the night. The Dream also out-rebounded its opponents 41-35, holding a notable advantage over all four of its opponents in this category so far this season. New York committed 19 turnovers, and despite three ties, the Liberty never led during the game.
Atlanta was led by forward Sancho Lyttle’s 18 points, which matched her season-high, set in the season opener against Tulsa on May 25. But it was Angel McCoughtry’s double-double – 15 points and 10 assists – to go along with her six steals and five rebounds that kept New York off-balance all night. Uncharacteristic of the league’s leading scorer last season, McCoughtry dished out seven assists in the first quarter alone.
“She’s been working hard at practice,” said Atlanta Coach Fed Williams. “She’s really a player that is trying to develop more at passing to her teammates and going to the boards and I think if she continues that, it will only make the team better.”
“It was a great team effort…team did really great,” McCoughtry added. “Everybody was getting steals, playing good defense, and out-running the other team.”
McCoughtry accounted for six of the Dream’s 14 steals, while Lyttle grabbed her 1,000th career rebound.
Atlanta came out running in the first quarter, producing a 25-18 margin by the end of the period, including a 3-pointer by first-year reserve Alex Bentley. The rookie’s shot at the 7:48 mark in the second quarter, gave the Dream its biggest first-quarter lead, 45-22. Atlanta took a 44-33 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
After New York’s Kamiko Williams cut the lead back to five, 45-40, in the third quarter, the Dream went on a 14-2 run, including 12 unanswered points – six by Lyttle – to extend its lead back to 59-42.
Ericka DeSouza contributed 13 points for Atlanta.
Kara Braxton led the Liberty with 14 points and six rebounds. She was the only New York player to reach double figures. Alex Montgomery had 12 rebounds.
The Dream will once again face the Liberty on June 9 at New York’s Prudential Center.