ATLANTA - It took a while for the Atlanta Dream’s bench to show up and they were outmatched on the boards much of the night, but they grabbed a few key rebounds late and came from behind Friday night to beat the Dallas Wings, 76-72, in the WNBA season opener for both teams.
And that five-point possession in the final 90 seconds sure helped in State Farm Arena.
The seventh and final lead change came with 1:24, when Brittney Sykes went to the free throw line for three shots, and made the first two. She missed the third, but stepped forward to grab the rebound, passed quickly to Renee Montgomery, who passed deep in the paint to Jessica Breland.
Her quick, short jumper was good, and she was fouled. After she made the free throw with 1:24 left in the game, Atlanta’s three-point deficit had become a 73-71 lead.
Breland led all scorers with 17 points, and added six rebounds.
Atlanta held on from there, winning despite being outrebounded 42-29, including a margin of 22-14 in the second half.
Montgomery scored 12 of her 14 points on the way to a 39-34 halftime deficit achieved when the Wings’ bench outscored Atlanta’s reserves 22-6.
Breland’s short jumper with 6:58 left in the third quarter pulled the Dream even at 40-40, but the Wings didn’t take long to pull away from there. In less than two minutes, they led 48-40 largely on the strength of Dallas rookie guard Brooke McCarty-Williams, who hit a pair of 3-pointers.
She played more off the bench Friday than fellow rookie Arike Ogunbowale. The No. 5 pick from Notre Dame started but played sparingly through three quarters because she picked up three fouls in the first half.
McCarty Williams finished with eight points and a game-high eight assists.
In the end, the Dallas bench outscored Atlanta’s subs 39-22.
The Wings first took hold of the game with a 15-0 run bridging the first and second quarters.
The season started well enough for the Dream. They built a 15-6 lead as the ball was snapping around, and Montgomery hit her first three shots -- including a 3-pointer -- for seven points.
She subbed out for the final 3:50 of the first quarter, though, and Atlanta found a case of fumble-itis and the Wings began converting a rash of Dream turnovers into 10 points, chiefly on breakaway layups or lightly-defended 3-pointers.
Dallas closed the first with the final five points of the first period, to trail 20-19 at the break, and then the first 10 of the second to build a nine-point lead.
Montgomery kept the Dream close, popping another 3-ball and adding a pair of free throws to help Atlanta work its way to within 39-34 by halftime.
Reserve Alisha Gray paced the Wings with 10 points of her team-high 14 points in the first half.
The Dream next play Friday, when the Seattle Storm will visit.
© 2019 Cox Media Group.