Dream take lead early, hold on to beat Mercury 76-70

By Katie Morrison

The Atlanta Dream (9-9) defeated Diana Taurasi and the Phoenix Mercury (14-6) 76-70 at home at McCamish Pavilion on Sunday.

The Dream started the game with an 8-0 run that gave the team confidence early, allowing Atlanta to reach its greatest lead at 62-39 by the third quarter. Despite a late rally by the Mercury that cut the Dream’s once 23-point lead to just five, two free throws by Elizabeth Williams with 25.6 seconds remaining helped Atlanta hold on to a win.

Five Dream players scored in double figures Sunday night, led by Tiffany Hayes with 18 points. Renee Montgomery and Brittney Sykes contributed 13 points each, and Elizabeth Williams and Angel McCoughtry both scored 10 points. Additionally, Jessica Breland had 12 rebounds Sunday afternoon and now ranks fourth in the league in rebounds per game.

Williams, who also totaled six blocks on Sunday, was able to frustrate Phoenix center Brittney Griner early. Griner still finished with 18 points, but Atlanta was able to hold her to 39 percent shooting. “We enjoy playing defense, and I think our signature this season has been a defensive team,” explained Williams. “We try to be in the top in defensive categories, so we take a lot of pride in that and I think especially when you’re playing someone like BG who is an Olympian and is so big and can do a lot of things we take a lot of pride in being disruptive and making it hard for her.”

Though defeating the top ranked Mercury appears to be a monumental victory, according to Dream head coach Nicki Collen, any win in the WNBA is something to celebrate. “I think any win in this league is a good win,” said Coach Collen in Sunday night’s post-game press conference. “I certainly told our team that even though today we were sitting in the eight hole and Phoenix was in the one hole, I didn’t think we were the eighth best team and that I thought we were better than Phoenix, but that we were going to have to prove it.”

Next, the Dream will travel to Capital One Arena to take on the Washington Mystics (12-7) at 11:30 AM ET before returning to Atlanta to face the Indiana Fever (2-17) on Friday, July 13 at 7 PM ET.