By Deitra P. Johnson (ADW Sports Editor)
Without last year’s WNBA leading scorer Diana Taurasi, the Atlanta Dream had little difficulty disposing of the Phoenix Mercury on May 31 at Philips Arena.
The Dream moved to 2-2 on the season by squarely defeating Phoenix 81-65, coming off a 78-62 loss to the Indiana Fever.
While Taurasi is out indefinitely with a strained left hip flexor injury and has only played in two games thus far this season, DeWanna Bonner stepped up to score 22 points for Phoenix, 17 coming in the second half. But despite Bonner adding 10 rebounds for a double-double, it still wasn’t enough to top the Dream.
“I thought we bounced back after the Indiana game last Sunday,” said Atlanta coach Marynell Meadors. “Tonight with them without Diana Taurasi they were a different team, but they all stepped up.”
Candice Dupree was Phoenix’s only other player in double figures with 14 points.
Atlanta’s bench was the most convincing element in the win. The Dream reserves outscored Phoenix’s second unit 37-10. Forward Cathrine Kraayeveld led the charge from the bench by tying teammate Sancho Lyttle with a game-high 12 points. Kraayeveld played 18 minutes.
“I knew my coaches and teammates had confidence in me in coming off the bench and knocking down a few shots,” said Kraayeveld.
Atlanta also out-rebounded Phoenix 45-35, and out-ran the Mercury with a 17-3 fast-break point differential. Atlanta also had 14 more free throws than their counterparts, connecting on 26 shots from the line.
Phoenix shot poorly from beyond the arc, connecting on only 4-of-20 shots from long range for 20 percent. Three of those 3-pointers came from Samantha Prahalis in the fourth quarter, adding to her nine point total.
The Dream controlled the game from the onset, going on a 24-11 second quarter run to build a lead that grew to as much as 25.
Fowles Combine In
Despite Angel McCoughtry’s 33 points, the Chicago Sky were able to counter with a career-high 33 points from Epiphanny Prince and 20 points, 19 rebounds from Sylvia Fowles in clipping the Dream, 94-92, in overtime on June 2.
Prince hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the game into overtime tied at 86-all, and then went on to score all eight of the Sky’s points in the extra period to claim the win.
Fowles and Prince accounted for 56.4 percent of the Sky’s offense. Prince’s 33 came on the heals of her 31-point output one night earlier against Washington.
Chicago’s success came in ball control, out-rebounding Atlanta 48-23, with Fowles almost single-handedly matching the Dream’s total output.
The Dream began by shooting 78.6 percent from the field in the first quarter, but slumped in the second and third quarters, hitting just 5-of-15 for 33.3 percent and 2-of-13 for a mere 15.4 percent, respectively.
Atlanta recovered in the final period to shoot 63.6 percent from the field after coach Meador decided to go with a quicker, four-guard lineup of McCoughtry and reserves Ketina Swanier, Laurie Koehn, and Anieka Henry, while playing Kraayeveld at center.
McCoughtry’s 3-pointer with 42.5 seconds remaining gave the Dream a 81-78 lead, and her two free throws extended that lead to 83-78 with 31.4 seconds left. But Koehn was called for a technical foul and Chicago was able to cut the lead back to two. That’s when Prince’s 3-pointer sent the game into overtime, leading to the win for the Sky.