McCoughtry, Castro Marques lead Dream in OT win
By GEORGE HENRY
Associated Press Writer
ATLANTA (AP) — Angel McCoughtry knew the Atlanta Dream needed to compensate quickly for Sancho Lyttle’s absence.
McCoughtry and Iziane Castro Marques each scored 32 points to lead the Atlanta Dream to a 108-103 overtime victory against the Connecticut Sun on Wednesday night.
Erika DeSouza had 17 points and 13 rebounds for the Eastern Conference-leading Dream (14-5), winners of five of their last six games. McCoughtry and Alison Bales — starting in place of the injured Lyttle — had 10 rebounds each.
“It was tough without Sancho tonight,” McCoughtry said. “We knew that once our post players got into foul trouble that we had to box and rebound so we could get our running game going.”
Sun rookie Tina Charles had a season-high 27 points and 20 rebounds for her WNBA-leading 14th double-double. Asjha Jones scored 17 points, Sandrine Gruda had 16 and Kara Lawson 11 for fourth-place Connecticut (10-8), which lost its third straight for the first time this season.
“It was just about playing team defense, which was one of the main things,” Charles said. “We were trying to get back on transition, which we did well, but late in the game, Atlanta hitting the boards cost us.”
The game featured the last two No. 1 picks in the WNBA draft — McCoughtry, out of Louisville in 2009, and UConn’s Charles this year.
Charles made two free throws with 2:22 left in overtime to give the Sun a 103-101 lead, and they didn’t score again.
McCoughtry tied the score with a jumper with 1:04 left and then gave the Dream their first lead of the extra period with a three-point play 32 seconds later. The go-ahead play came after instant replay overruled that Dream guard Shalee Lehning stepped on the baseline.
“It came down to who’s going to make the most shots,” Sun coach Mike Thibault said. “I don’t think either team necessarily made adjustments in overtime. They just tried to put the ball in Izi and Erika’s hands and let them go 1-on-1 and make a play. They got some shots that dropped, and ours didn’t.”
Bales and DeSouza each made a free throw in the final 26 seconds to seal Atlanta’s win.
With each team playing its final game before the All-Star break, the Dream moved one game ahead of Washington atop the East. The Sun fell three games behind Atlanta.
Lyttle, an All-Star forward who leads the Dream with a 10.6 rebounding average, missed the game due to aftereffects of a concussion sustained in a loss to Chicago on Saturday.
“When you don’t have one of your top rebounders and scorers, it hurts,” Atlanta coach Marynell Meadors said. “We definitely missed her.”
McCoughtry’s fadeaway jumper with 31 seconds left in regulation tied the score at 95. Charles turned the ball over with a double dribble on Connecticut’s ensuing possession. McCoughtry missed a jumper with under 2 seconds left, and Lehning’s potential winning putback came after the buzzer.
McCoughtry’s two free throws with 3:18 left in the third quarter gave the Dream a 77-63 lead, their biggest advantage of the game.
However, the Sun went on a 29-11 run, capped by Tan White’s three-point play that gave Connecticut a 92-88 lead with 2 minutes to go.
“It was a very hard game,” Castro Marques said. “We tried to push the tempo early. We knew that Connecticut was tired, and they hung in there. We kept fighting, and I think it was a great team win.”
Atlanta finished with a single-game franchise high in points.
The game marked the first time two opposing players each scored at least 30 points against Connecticut.
Updated July 7, 2010