AT&T Center — The Atlanta Dream hadn’t won in San Antonio in four years and nearly made it five as they almost let their lead slip away. Key defense in the final seconds would break that winless streak in the Alamo City.
Angel McCoughtry scored 18 points as the Dream held on to defeat the Stars 81-79 in front of 6,371 fans at the AT&T Center on Thursday night.
Sancho Lyttle had 16 points and 11 rebounds and Erika de Souza chipped in 14 for Atlanta (10-4), who own the best record in the league and never trailed in the game.
”It was a great win,” Lyttle said. ”It came down to the end. Most games are going to come like that, and we kept our poise.”
The Stars were led by Jia Perkins, who scored 17 points before leaving the game in the third quarter with a strained right hamstring. Shameka Christon added 14 points and Shenise Johnson chipped in ten.
”I definitely think that we were worried about her (Perkins),” Johnson said. ”Jia gives us that energy and that spark. She is instant buckets for us. I wouldn’t say we lost our focus, but I would say we dropped our shoulders a little bit.”
San Antonio has now lost two straight after having a three-game winning streak.
Atlanta jumped out to an early 17-7 lead before San Antonio head coach Dan Hughes called timeout and put his reserves in. The bench sparked a rally and scored 24 of the Stars’ 42 first-half points. They would finish with 52 bench points for the game.
”I didn’t like our focus early,” Hughes said. ”You have to look at the facts, and we had 52 points coming off the bench. They are a good basketball team. There is a reason they are leading the East. They are very athletic, and they create a lot of difficulties for us. We were just trying to get a rhythm.”
San Antonio went on a late 10-0 run, which was capped off by Hammon’s 3-pointer to make the lead 77-74 in favor of Atlanta. McCoughtry made a pair of free throws and Celine Dumerc added two more to extend the lead to 80-76. Christon hit a 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds remaining to cut the lead to 80-79.
”We were backpedaling a little bit,” Lyttle said. ”Maybe it was fatigue or maybe it was them. We’ve got to play 40 minutes. They were shooting 3s and they got back in the game with four 3s. If you look at stats like that, we weren’t playing our defense.”
San Antonio will hit the road for a stretch of four games in seven days, something Hughes says his team needs.
“I think it’s a good time for this road trip,” Hughes said. “I welcome it and I think the team can learn from it.”
The Stars are now 7-8 on the season and will return to the court on Sunday afternoon when they travel to Washington to face Kara Lawson and the Mystics at 3 p.m. inside Verizon Center.
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