Rhyne Howard scores 21 but Dream fall to Mystics

Rookie Rhyne Howard is averaging 20.5 points per game. Miguel Martinez/miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

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Rookie Rhyne Howard is averaging 20.5 points per game. Miguel Martinez/miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

Ariel Atkins scored 18 points, Natasha Cloud added 17 and the visiting Washington Mystics erased a double-digit deficit in the second half to beat the Dream 78-73 on Friday night.

There were two ties and three lead changes in the final 2 1/2 minutes, the last of which came when Tianna Hawkins made two free throws to give the Mystics a 74-73 lead with 41.5 seconds left. After Atlanta’s Rhyne Howard missed a jumper, Cloud made two foul shots and Atkins stole a pass and added two more free throws to cap the scoring with 19 seconds remaining.

Howard hit four 3-pointers and led Atlanta (4-2) with 21 points. The No. 1 selection in last month’s draft, Howard is averaging 20.5 points while shooting 46.7% from behind the arc. Her 21 made 3s through six career games are second in WNBA history. Ruthie Bolton had 23 for the Sacramento Monarchs in 1997.

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Cheyenne Parker scored 13 points, Nia Coffey had 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Erica Wheeler added 11 points for the Dream.

Hawkins added 11 points for Washington (5-1) and rookie Shakira Austin had 10 points, seven rebounds and three steals.

Atlanta scored 10 consecutive points to take a 56-46 lead when Wheeler hit a 3-pointer midway through the third quarter. The Mystics responded with an 11-0 run soon after.