The hottest team in the WNBA claimed another victim Friday night.
The Washington Mystics were little competition for the Dream, who administered an 86-75 torching at Philips Arena, their fifth win in a row.
The Dream improved to 9-1, the best start in the franchise’s six-year history and the best record in the league. Of their nine wins, six have been by double figures. The Dream will play the San Antonio Silver Stars at 3 p.m. Sunday at Philips Arena.
“I think they’re the best defensive team that we’ve played against,” Washington coach Mike Thibault said.
The Dream’s play at times bordered on sublime, a series of intercepted passes, hustle plays and defensive rebounds against an overmatched opponent leading to crisp ball movement and open shots at the basket. The Dream shot 50.7 percent from the field, a number infused by rookie guard Alex Bentley’s 7-for-11 effort. She made all three of her 3-point attempts, the second a challenged, beat-the-shot-clock prayer that caromed in off the backboard.
“I feel like every shot’s going in,” Bentley said. “I knew the clock was coming down and I had to get it up.”
After her first and third, she held her follow-through with a dramatic flourish. Her last, with 5:02 to play in the game, gave her a piece of WNBA history. It was her 10th consecutive made 3-pointer, breaking Diana Taurasi’s record of nine set in 2006. Bentley’s streak, which extends over five games, is an unlikely achievement.
Bentley was not an exceptional 3-point shooter at Penn State, and that was with a 3-point arc 19 feet, 9 inches from the rim. She shot 30.9 percent over her career and 28.1 percent as a senior, which didn’t even place her in the top 15 in the Big Ten.
She has dropped her 3-pointers this season from the new WNBA distance, 22 feet, 1 ¾ inches, the international length. Before her streak, she had made just three of her first 15 attempts.
Washington (4-6) was out-rebounded 38-27, lost its fifth in a row.
Playing in front of a crowd of 5,512, forward Angel McCoughtry continued her strong run of play, scoring a game-high 21 points on 16 shots, with six rebounds, five assists, four steals and two blocks against three turnovers.
“All-purpose player,” Dream coach Fred Williams said. “She’s really a triple-threat player who can now share the basketball, draw double teams and triple teams and kick it out to teammates.”
For the second consecutive game, the Dream recovered from a slow start. A 17-0 run wiped out an eight-point first-quarter disadvantage in the Dream’s Tuesday win over Indiana.
On Friday, the Dream failed to score on their first six possessions, permitting the Mystics to gain a 10-0 advantage. McCoughtry spurred a turnaround with a 3-pointer for the Dream’s first points. She assisted on three baskets that enabled them to take their first lead at 18-16 on Bentley’s first 3-pointer.
At the start of the second quarter, a 10-0 run fueled by Washington turnovers and misses that opened the Dream transition game, gave the home team a 30-20 lead. The Dream closed the half ahead 39-28, a lead that grew to as many as 20 in the second half.
“I just thought that Bentley and McCoughtry, the way they played in the second quarter, changed the game,” Thibault said.
McCoughtry delivered the shot of the game late in the second quarter. After guard Tiffany Hayes’ jump shot was tipped, McCoughtry leapt to track the deflection in the lane. Facing the sideline, McCoughtry caught the ball and in the same motion released a desperation shot with the shot clock running down. The ball bounced around the rim and fell through for a 36-24 lead, leading McCoughtry to roll her eyes in disbelief.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.