Tiffany Hayes returns to lead Dream to a victory over Liberty

Atlanta Dream guard Tiffany Hayes has been out due to a knee injury. File photo

Credit: AP

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Atlanta Dream guard Tiffany Hayes has been out due to a knee injury. File photo

Credit: AP

Tiffany Hayes made the most of her first game of the season, providing a spark in overtime to lift the Atlanta Dream over the host New York Liberty.

Hayes, who missed the first 19 games with a right-knee injury, scored nine of her 21 points in OT to lift the Dream to a 92-81 victory Thursday night.

Hayes scored the first seven points in overtime, hitting a 3-pointer from each wing and then getting fouled while shooting another 3. She made only one of those free throws to make it 86-79.

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Natasha Howard finally got New York on the board in the extra period with a layup, but that only cut the deficit to 88-81 with just over two minutes left. The Dream (9-11) wouldn’t let the Liberty get any closer.

New York (8-11) led 79-76 with 7.5 seconds left when Atlanta’s Erica Wheeler took the ball and dribbled the clock down before hitting a 3-pointer from the top of the key at the buzzer to send the game to overtime. Wheeler had missed most of June with a left foot sprain.

Hayes briefly let the game early in the fourth quarter going down after a rebound and was escorted back to the locker room. She came back about two minutes later.

The game also marked the return of AD Durr to New York. The Liberty traded Durr to Atlanta earlier this month. She scored five points.

Wheeler admitted that the tying shot wasn’t originally supposed to be for her.

“The shot was to go to AD, but as a point guard, time awareness, saw 2.3 seconds left and made a basketball move and hit the shot,” Wheeler said.

Next game: The Dream returns home to host Seattle on Sunday.