Defensively improved Dream fall short against Wings

Despite Saturday’s 78-70 loss to the Dallas Wings, the Dream were a different team on defense than they were one week ago.

The Dream, who lost to the Wings 101-78 in Sunday’s season opener, were scrappy on defense every moment the game was in doubt and exuded a defensive energy similar to the Wings.

The Wings (2-2) shot 37.9 perfect from the field and were 6-of-21 beyond the arc — a marked improvement for the Dream defense compared with the teams’ first matchup Sunday, when the Wings shot 48.4 percent from the field and were 6-of-17 from the 3-point line.

Wings lead scorer Skylar Diggins-Smith, who made 13-of-15 free throw attempts and shot 5-of-15 from the field, led the team with 26 points. Forward Kayla Thornton and center Liz Cambridge were the only other Wings players to score in double figures with 14 points apiece.

While limiting the Wings’ scoring was a team effort between the 10 players who played Saturday, Elizabeth Williams, Jessica Breland and Brittney Sykes were the most obvious contributors.

Williams totaled 14 points and three steals in the win while Breland had four blocks, two steals, four points and a team-high of 10 rebounds and Sykes finished the game three blocks and five points.

The Dream also won the turnover battle Saturday, forcing 24 Wings’ turnovers compared with the 12 the Dream committed.

The Dream (1-2) brought their defensive energy from Wednesday’s win over the Chicago Sky to Saturday’s home opener, but unfortunately, the Dream’s success on offense in their win over the Sky didn’t make the trip back to Atlanta.

In her first game back in Atlanta after taking last season off to rest, Angel McCoughtry finished Saturday’s game with seven rebounds, three steals and a team-high of 19 points followed by Williams and Tiffany Hayes who each had 14.

The team finished Saturday’s loss shooting 28.2 percent from the field and were 6-of-22 beyond the arc— not just worse than the shooting in Wednesday’s win over the Sky, but worse than their first matchup with the Wings.

The Dream looked to have a chance to take the lead when they trailed by three late in the fourth quarter after digging themselves out of a 13-point hole from the second quarter, but they couldn’t sink a shot when it mattered.

Most of the Dream’s scoring difficulty throughout the game could be attributed to the Wings’ strong defense around the perimeter the players knew was a factor in their loss Sunday, but some of the struggle was also because of an off night.

One of the more glaring problems the Dream had Saturday was rebounding their own shots. The Wings totaled 47 rebounds, 39 on defense, compared with the Dream who finished the game with 35 total.

The Dream continue their stretch of four consecutive home games at 7 p.m. Tuesday against the Minnesota Lynx at McCamish Pavilion.