Offensive rebs fuels Atlanta’s 75-67 over Mystics

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Erika DeSouza and Angel McCoughtry each scored 16 points and the Atlanta Dream won their fourth straight game with a 75-67 victory over the turnover-plagued Washington Mystics on Sunday.

Sancho Lyttle scored 10 of her 15 points in the fourth quarter and Tiffany Hayes had 14 for the Dream (7-3), who turned Washington’s 21 turnovers into 21 points.

Washington trailed by 11 in the first half and tied the game three times after halftime, but never took the lead. Lyttle’s scoring fueled a decisive 11-3 run starting with 3:48 remaining.

Atlanta outrebounded Washington 17-4 on the offensive boards and held an 18-0 advantage in second-chance points.

“Championships are won with good defense and good rebounding,” Dream coach Michael Cooper said. “I thought we did that right when we really needed it.”

Bria Hartley scored 13 points, Ivory Latta 12 and Monique Currie added 11 for the Mystics (5-6), who have lost four of five.

Atlanta finished with a 41-30 advantage on the boards after Washington had two more rebounds in the first half. The Dream grabbed seven offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter — two more than the Mystics had overall in the period.

“That’s our strength. We’re number one in offensive rebounding in this league,” Cooper said. “It finally came true in the fourth quarter when we were able to get some second and third shots.”

The Dream entered the first of four regular season matchups with Washington this season following Friday’s 85-82 victory over the Minnesota Lynx in a rematch of the 2013 WNBA Finals.

Last year Atlanta won the season series from Washington 3-2 and then rallied to knock the Mystics out of the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

The Dream, who host Washington on Wednesday, also controlled the boards in the postseason matchup, a point the Mystics were reminded of entering Sunday.

“They beat us last year in the playoffs. Coach (Mike Thibault) came in here and said how did they beat us? Rebounding,” Latta said. “So we should take this hard.”

McCoughtry had five rebounds, five assists, three steals and went 8 of 8 from the free throw line. The Dream took 18 more free throw attempts than the Mystics and finished with a 20-8 advantage from the line.

“We controlled the boards. Definitely the hustle plays,” McCoughtry said of the keys to this victory. “We kept our composure.”

Currie knew her side lost the battle of the boards, but didn’t realize the one-sided nature until scanning the box score postgame.

“They get 17 offensive rebounds, Jesus,” Currie slowly exclaimed, pausing after reading the number and comparing it to Washington’s paltry total. “If you’re getting that many more extra shots than we did, that makes a huge difference and it did.”

Washington had 13 turnovers in the first half with several coming during Atlanta’s 20-6 run. The Dream led 40-32 at halftime.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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