The Dream started the game in spoiler mode; urgency was about the arena, Elizabeth Williams started the scoring off right off the tap. She was 4-4, and Tiffany Hayes was 2-2 be before they missed anything. They kept pace to end the first quarter 24-23. Sancho Lyttle who’s normally not a big scorer at this stage of her career had 8 points by the 7.20 mark in the second. The team played competitively in the first half shooting 60% from the field Elizabeth Williams, Sancho Lyttle, and Layshia Clarendon had 10 points each by halftime. Unfortunately, the Storm was even hotter firing at 64% to steal their thunder with a five point advantage 48-43. Points in the paint have been the teams Achilles heel tonight they were getting those easy baskets matching the Storm 22-20. Head Coach Michael Cooper sets the standard at 20 assists per game at the break they had fifteen.
All season the Dream have finished games stronger than they have started so there weren’t many concerns coming out of the tunnel. Tiffany Hayes continued with an easy layup to get the second half going then Atlanta’s Rookie of the Year nailed a three pointer anytime she’s trigger happy the opponent is in trouble. Since entering the starting line up she has improved in one aspect or the other each game, she hadn’t put it all together, but at times she gives you that flash of greatness.
Head Coach Michael Cooper
On Brittney Sykes’ Rookie Season
“She should be Rookie of the Year. I know [fellow Rookie, Dallas Wings Guard Allisha] Gray has something to say about that though. Sykes is an interesting person, and she’s an exciting player. She even got some rebounds tonight. Even, I was in awe about that.“
Example: She grabbed an offensive rebound gave the ball to Claredon and set up for a game changing three pointer to make the score 48-49 one minute into the third quarter suddenly they were in striking distance. The intensity in the game was at an all time high as both teams took what the other dished out. A minute or two went by with no scoring by either team as it became a defensive challenge It was like they said if I can’t score I am not going to allow you to score. The Dream got it to one but couldn’t get over the hump, so they did the next best thing. Ajavon got fouled underneath with .18 seconds remaining in the quarter. She stepped to the line, took a deep breath and willed both free throws through the nets. At the end of three, the score was 64-64. The teams were evenly matched, and it reflected in the score. The Storm was playing for better positioning in the playoffs, and the Dream was trying to keep hope alive by breaking a nine game losing streak. The game resembled two horses coming around the final bin at the Kentucky Derby with side view blinders on forcing them to be focused in one direction straight ahead at the finish line.
Just a few seconds into the fourth quarter Tiffany Hayes attacked the lane for a layup to take the lead by two points. The most they could build it was five before the storm would come back. They tied it up again at 77-77 with 3:38 to go, on a layup by Clark. It stayed locked up until Langhorne connected on her second free throw. The lead had changed hands this time it was getting critical 2:43 remaining. Again; more back and forth until that bad girl whose made with nerves of steel hit the most dramatic three point shot. The ball went flat on the rim it sat there then swoosh the Dream were up by five 80-85 with .34 on the clock. Could it be happening the team that usually spot their opponents then fight like hell to get back in the game then figure out away to lose it was going to do it again? Not tonight they went on to win this one 83-89.
It was pleasing to see them put together an entire game. Anyone who has seen them play this season knew it was just a matter of time. Is it too much too little that playoff window might have closed? Five Dream players finished the game scoring in double figures.
Sancho Lyttle had 18 points and 9 rebounds, she established a new season high. Lyashia Clarendon was surgical scoring 17 points while orchestrating the team with 14 assists. With her performance, she became the WNBA’s single-season assist leader. Britteny Sykes contributed 15, Tiffany Hayes 13, and Elizabeth Williams 12 in a winning effort.