WASHINGTON (AP) — Angel McCoughtry scored 20 points as a controlling first half and dominant fourth quarter led the Atlanta Dream to a 63-45 victory over the Washington Mystics on Saturday night, evening their Eastern Conference semifinals series.
Erika DeSouza had 11 points and 15 rebounds, and Aneika Henry added 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Dream, who outscored Washington 17-9 in the both the first and fourth quarters. Atlanta had lost five straight games and 17 of 24 — including the series opener at home on Thursday night — led Game 2 at halftime, 36-21, and by 21 in the second half.
Outrebounded by 48-36 margin in the 71-56 loss in Game 1, the Dream finished with a 53-30 rebounding advantage in the rematch. Tayler Hill led the Mystics with 11 points. With a chance to close out the series at home, Washington shot a season-low 25 percent (14 of 56) from the field. Washington had won four straight and six of eight.
Atlanta hosts the decisive Game 3 on Monday night. The Dream's rebounding total was their best of the season and helped offset their own shooting woes. Two-time WNBA scoring champion McCoughtry had another rough shooting night, finishing 6 for 23 before fouling out in the final minute. She had a 6-for-20 effort in Game 1.
She picked up her fifth foul 35 seconds into the fourth quarter after Atlanta entered the final period leading 46-36. Despite McCoughtry sitting out a stretch of the fourth, the Mystics failed to cut the deficit into single digits, scoring only two points during the first 5:25 of the quarter.
Before the game, Mystics coach Mike Thibault was honored with his third WNBA Coach of the Year award. Washington struggled all around with its shooting, finishing 13 for 24 on free throws and 14 for 56 (25 percent) from the field — including 5 for 31 from the starting five.
In her second start of the season, Henry made her first four shots from the field and finished with her first career double-double. She started in place of forward Le'coe Willingham, who did not play after suffering a right knee injury after the series opener.
The Mystics opened the game missing eight straight shots and ended the first quarter clanking their final seven attempts. Washington's starting frontcourt went 0 for 13 in the half. McCoughtry outscored Washington 11-9 in the opening quarter and finished with 13 first half points despite shooting 4 for 14 from the field.
Arminitie Herrington's layup with 0.5 seconds remaining in the half gave Atlanta its 15-point lead at the break.