For 20 minutes, the Atlanta Dream played a competitive game, leading last season’s WNBA runner-up, 45-42.
But then, halftime happened.
After the intermission, the Dream went an entire seven minutes without scoring. It led to a 14-0 run, which ultimately caused the Dream to fall, 89-73, to the Washington Mystics in front of a nationally televised audience.
Before the break, everything seemed to go right for the Dream. It shot 42% from beyond the arc, and guard Tiffany Hayes poured in 16 points — 12 of them from three-point range.
But the Mystics, who lead the league in points per game (85.6), only missed one shot through the first seven minutes in the third quarter. Maite Cazorla’s three-pointer with three minutes remaining in the quarter ended the drought. But by then, the Mystics (7-3) led by nine, and momentum had drastically swung their way. The loss, broadcast on ESPN, pushes Atlanta’s disappointing start to 2-7.
“It takes one bad stretch to get you down double figures, and against a good team, all that does is give them momentum,” Dream coach Nicki Collen said.
Missed shots in the third quarter deflated the Dream, Collen said. Blown opportunities to score — including field goals and at the foul line — caused the Dream to miss defensive assignments on the other end. Mystics forward Elena Delle Donne, a five-time WNBA All-Star and 2015 MVP, feasted off those mistakes, scoring 15 of her 21 points in the second half. Hayes, meanwhile, only scored two points after her offensive explosion in the first half.
“It came down to when we weren't making shots,it was about getting stops,” Collen said. “And we didn't do either in the third. We didn't keep the momentum going by making shots and then we didn't get stops.”
Outside of its opening game victory against Dallas and a win Wednesday against Indiana, Atlanta has lost every other game in this young WNBA season. While the Dream continue to figure things out, forward Monique Billings said she and her team will try to use this adversity to come back stronger.
“I think that we’ll let the frustration that we feel be a positive emotion going into the next few games,” she said.
Atlanta will play again June 30 at State Farm Arena against the New York Liberty.
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