Stewart leads New York to 81-75 victory over the Atlanta Dream

NEW YORK (AP) — Breanna Stewart had 22 points and 12 rebounds to help the New York Liberty rally to beat the Atlanta Dream 81-75 on Sunday.

New York, which was down 16 in the first half, led 60-59 heading into the fourth quarter. The Liberty (16-3) scored the first 10 points of the period, started on a free throw by Stewart. The Dream, who were coming off a win at Connecticut on Friday night, cut it to 70-67 before back-to-back 3s by Sabrina Ionescu and Leonie Fiebich put the game away.

“We continued to compete, playing our style of basketball,” Stewart said of recovering from the slow start. “We had some off days we weren’t used to and had to get the rhythm back.”

New York, which hadn’t played since losing to Minnesota in the Commissioner’s Cup final on Tuesday, also got 18 points from Betnijah Laney-Hamilton.

Stewart scored her 5,000th career point, becoming the fastest player to reach that milestone doing it in her 242nd game. Diana Taurasi, the all-time leading scorer in WNBA history, did it in 243.

Allisha Gray had 24 points and Tina Charles added 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Dream (7-10). Atlanta was still missing Rhyne Howard (ankle) and Aerial Powers (leg) with injuries.

“At some point we’ll be able to put it all together hopefully when we have everyone back full force,” Atlanta coach Tanisha Wright said. “Tonight our crew played hard, they got fatigued. when you get fatigued, it’s hard to push through and do the things you’re supposed to do because you let fatigue take over. I don’t fault them for that.”

This was a homecoming for Charles, who grew up in New York and played for the Liberty from 2014-19. She received a warm ovation from the crowd when she was introduced pregame.

New York put Courtney Vandersloot back in the starting lineup for the first time since she spent a few weeks away to be with her mom before she passed away from cancer. The guard left the team at the beginning of the month and then played in her first game since June 4 in the Commissioner’s Cup final last Tuesday.

The Liberty were down 31-15 early in the second quarter and trailed by 14 with 1:40 left in the half before Stewart and Vandersloot rallied them to 41-36 at the break. Stewart missed six of her first seven shots before finishing by hitting four of her last five to finish the half with 12 points.



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