The Connecticut Sun trailed by just one point against the Dream on Wednesday in State Farm Arena. After dropping their first two meetings against the Sun this season, Atlanta (4-10) was looking for a much-needed win.
With just 10 seconds left, Connecticut (9-6) sent Atlanta’s Alex Bentley to the free-throw line. Bentley knocked both shots down, securing the Dream’s three-point win.
The Dream’s season-high 29-point first quarter set the pace, as they battled nearly point-for-point in the second half.
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A game-high 18-point performance from Tiffany Hayes and another 17 from Elizabeth Williams led the Dream to a 78-75 win over the Sun, in its first home win since mid-June.
“We had a really strong start,” Williams said. “That’s something that we’ve struggled with. We all had it in our minds that we were going to get good shots and make those shots. We did a good job setting the tone early.”
The Dream shot 41.9 percent from the field and 82.6 percent from the free-throw line. Bentley, who made critical, late-game free throws, went 4-for-4 from the line, and Williams went 7-of-8.
Atlanta head coach Nicki Collen said at practice Tuesday that the Dream would need to contain the Sun’s Alyssa Thomas in transition and dominate off-the-glass defensively. Atlanta held Thomas, who averages nearly 12 points-a-game, to just seven.
“I thought, for the most part, our transition defense was very good,” Collen said. “We took away the lane, but we also played out. We made [Thomas] shoot over us.”
Still in the front court, the Dream’s 20 turnovers created fast-break opportunities for the Sun, who capitalized to the tune of 14 points.
The Dream took an early 8-2 lead behind back-to-back 3-pointers, part of a 10-0 run. While the Sun battled back, the Dream kept their momentum going, finishing the quarter with a season-high 29 points to Connecticut’s 18. Hayes led the Dream in points with 11 off 4-of-5 shooting from the field and a perfect beyond-the-arc performance.
The Sun, who ended the first quarter with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, carried that energy into the second quarter for a 10-0 run. At the midway point, the Sun took their first lead of the game at 35-33, but back-to-back layups from Williams put the Dream back on top. The Sun responded with an 8-1 run to get within two, but their 23-point quarter wasn’t enough to surmount the Dream’s lead as they trailed two at the half.
The Sun and Dream tugged back-and-forth for the third quarter, trading baskets for six lead changes and five ties. Connecticut outscored the Dream 15-13 in the third to tie the score at 56-56. Montgomery scored a team-high six of the Dream’s 13 third-quarter points.
A three-point play from the Sun gave Connecticut’s its largest lead margin of the game of four points, but a 10-0 run by the Dream gave the Dream a six-point lead with just under five minutes remaining. Five more minutes of nonstop parity sent Alex Bentley to the line in the final 10 seconds; she sank both to secure a three-point victory.
“We finally put a whole game together,” Hayes said. “Without the turnovers at the end, we played a pretty solid game.”
The Dream will host the Minnesota Lynx next in State Farm Arena at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
This article was written by Sierra Webster, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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