“I thought we probably relied a little too much on the jump shot and didn’t get to the basket as much as we could or tried to challenge Delle Donne at the rim,” an emotional Dream coach Nicki Collen said after Tuesday’s loss. “We had a couple turnovers in there but we won a lot of games sitting down and guarding late and I thought we did but the whistle didn’t go our way.”
Delle Donne finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds after being limited to four points in the first half.
Ariel Atkins led the Dream with 20 points, but Kristi Toliver proved to be unstoppable in the first half. Toliver finished the game with 19 points after scoring 17 and shooting 7-of-11 from the field and 3-of-6 from the 3-point line in the first half.
Despite Toliver’s dominant first-half performance, the Dream led 50-49 at the half and took that momentum to build a six-point lead to start the second half, but a leg injury to forward Jessica Breland looked to shake the Dream up on defense over the next few minutes. The Mystics went on a 16-4 run to end the third quarter even though Breland re-entered the game near the end of the third quarter.
Breland finished with eight points and a game-high of 12 rebounds.
While the Dream struggled to score late in the fourth quarter, Bentley, who has been a spark off the bench for the Dream since she was acquired in a trade with the Connecticut Sun in July, entered the game with 6:26 remaining in the first quarter and shot 4-of-6 from the field for nine points in six minutes. Behind Bentley’s nine first-quarter points, the Dream dug themselves out of an early eight-point deficit to tie the game 24-24 to end the first quarter.
Brittney Sykes was also a catalyst for the Dream on both ends of the floor, scoring 15 points. Sykes scored 10 of her points in the second quarter.
“I just think this team knows how to grind and they believe they can make plays late, we just didn’t make enough,” Collen said.
The first game of the 2018 WNBA Finals will played Friday at 9 p.m. between the Mystics and Seattle Storm.
“I hate that we didn’t get our goal, but I don’t think any of us can complain about this team and what we’ve done,” Dream center Elizabeth Williams said.