Dream falls to Lynx in McCoughtry’s return
ATLANTA (AP) — Seimone Augustus kept the Minnesota Lynx rolling.
Angel McCoughtry kept the Atlanta Dream wondering.
Augustus scored 23 points, Rebekkah Brunson added 21 and the Minnesota Lynx won their sixth straight game with an 84-74 victory over the Atlanta Dream on Saturday night.
The victory at Phillips Arena was Minnesota’s first since sweeping Atlanta in the WNBA finals last year.
McCoughtry, who began the game leading the league with a 22.7 scoring average, finished with 14 points. McCoughtry did not play in the last two games because of personal reasons and was held out of the starting lineup.
Dream coach Marynell Meadors declined to elaborate about McCoughtry’s situation. Meadors said she considers McCoughtry to be at full strength.
“She played,” Meadors said. “She played the game tonight. I guess she is. She wouldn’t be in the game if she was not, OK? All I can say is that she played tonight.”
After helping the U.S. women’s basketball win a gold medal at the Olympics earlier this month, McCoughtry scored a combined 47 points in a win at Chicago and a loss at Indiana before missing the next two games. She did not travel with the team in Atlanta’s win Friday at Washington.
“I asked coach for a couple of days off so I could get myself together,” McCoughtry said. “She allowed me to do that, so I’m grateful for that.”
McCoughtry, whom Meadors made the WNBA’s No. 1 overall draft pick in 2009, was held out of the starting lineup in a home victory June 15 over Los Angeles for breaking an unspecified team rule.
Her 20 minutes played marked a season low in a game during which she was not injured.
Meadors, who worked as an assistant coach at the Olympics, said McCoughtry should be ready to help Atlanta make another playoff run. The Dream were also runners-up in 2010 WNBA finals.
“She doesn’t have her legs under her, that’s for sure,” Meadors said. “She was a little winded, and I thought that hurt her not being out in practice and everything last week.”
Sancho Lyttle added 14 points for Atlanta, which had won two straight and three of four.
Augustus, the MVP of last year’s finals, scored eight points in the third quarter. She hit 17-foot jump shots on consecutive possessions to push Minnesota’s lead to 63-54 at the 3:20 mark.
Minnesota improved the WNBA’s best record to 19-4. The Lynx are 8-3 on the road.
The Dream never led after Augustus’ 18-footer from the right baseline made it 43-42 with 1:24 left in the second.
Maya Moore, who led nearby Collins Hill High School to three consecutive state titles before starring on two national championship teams at Connecticut, finished with 14 points. Lindsay Whalen added 13 points with a game-high eight assists.
Tiffany Hayes scored 12 and Cathrine Kraayeveld added 12 for the Dream, who dropped to 12-12 overall, 6-5 at home.
McCoughtry thought the game turned in Minnesota’s favor when the Lynx shut down passes inside to forwards Sancho Lyttle, Tiffany Hayes and center Erika de Souza.
“We should’ve got the ball back inside because that’s where we were killing at the beginning,” McCoughtry said. “Next time if we play them, we’ve definitely got to take advantage of getting the ball inside and maintaining that the whole game.”
Meadors thought her players were exhausted after playing five games in eight days.
“It was a matchup of the finals last year,” Meadors said. “I thought we played well considering we played last night and traveled. We got up at 3:30 this morning to travel here.”
McCoughtry hopes she will be in the starting lineup Tuesday when Atlanta hosts Tulsa.
“I felt like I didn’t really have my legs tonight like I wanted to,” McCoughtry said. “I’ll be OK, though, once I get back in the flow of things.”