After struggling from three point range for much of the season, The Atlanta Dream hit a season-high seven three-pointers en route to a 88-74 victory over the Chicago Sky on Sunday. The Dream improve to 6-1 with the win while the Sky fall to 4-2.
Coach Fred Williams said the team continues to put an emphasis on its three-point shooting in practice.
“Like I said before, we just have to keep practicing and keep taking the looks people give us from the outside and eventually they’ll fall for us,” Williams said. “We just want to build on that.”
Angel McCoughtry scored 23 points and grabbed six rebounds to lead the Dream. Erika DeSouza had a season-high in points (16) and rebounds (11) for her first double-double of the season. Jasmine Thomas put in 13 points, while Tiffany Hayes added 16 points, dished eight assists and snatched six rebounds off the bench.
“It’s a family atmosphere with this team and it’s going to continue to be that way,” Williams said. “I’m very pleased with our balanced scoring and balanced passing with 20 assists.”
Defensively, the Dream held the Sky to 38 percent shooting and 22 percent from three-point range. The Dream forced 17 turnovers and turned them into 21 points. The Sky outrebounded the Dream 39 to 29.
Rookie Elena Delle Donne, the second pick in April’s WNBA draft, led the Sky with 25 points and five rebounds. Allie Quigley put in 14 points off the bench. Delle Donne scored 16 in the first half, breaking down the Dream’s defense and getting to the free throw line.
“She’s a phenomenal player and I’m happy to have her in the league,” Williams said. “I think she’ going to be a fine player in this league.”
But the Dream adjusted and used multiple defenders on Delle Donne in the second half, holding her to only two field goals in the final 20 minutes. Williams said with a player of Delle Donne’s caliber, teams have to put multiple defenders on her.
“We put them as a whole on the free throw line too much in the first half, (Delle Donne) especially,” Thomas said. “So in the second half, we went back to playing our good position defense without fouling. We made them work for everything.”
The Dream exploded out of the gates with a 34 point first quarter, only allowing the Sky 18 in the first period. The Sky battled back when Quigley hit 6-of-8 jump shots to keep the game close, cutting the deficit to 51-47 at halftime. A sloppy third quarter doomed the Sky as the Dream built a 20-point lead and cruised the rest of the way.
“Our reserve players coming in do a good job of giving our veterans some rest,” Williams said. “That helps us a great deal in the fourth quarter.”
The Dream return to action next Sunday with a trip to Connecticut to face the Sun and Tina Charles. The Dream return home Tuesday, June 25 when they welcome the defending champion Indiana Fever to Philips Arena.
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Credit: John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com