DREAM BEAT: Atlanta defeats Tulsa on Kids’ Day

Kid’s Day ended at Philips Arena on a positive note as the Dream (10-4) held off a second-half surge from the Tulsa Shock (3-9) to win 96-90. Atlanta improved to 3-1 in the past four games and 5-1 at home in Philips Arena. Atlanta began the game on an 11-3 run in the first period and extended the lead to 18 at one point in the first half. Center Erika de Souza scored 15 points of her 19 total points in the first period and the Dream looked on pace for a dominating win. "That’s how Erika plays, she finally had a really good game," commented head coach Marynell Meadors, "She hasn’t played that well since she’s been back from overseas." Despite being down double digits, the Shock battled back to cut the lead to three points at the half time break. When asked what led to the lead collapse Meadors answered, "I think we were just really tired, we’ve been on the road forever." The Dream committed several turnovers and costly mistakes helping Tulsa to get back into the game; however, Atlanta players remained calm under pressure and secured a second straight victory at home with clutch performances down the stretch by Angel McCoughtry, Izaine Marques, and Sancho Lyttle. McCoughtry finished with a team high 29 points and Lyttle continued her dominance under the glass with 12 rebounds.
Dream players reiterated after the game that this win was more of a team effort than any individual performance. "The main job wasn’t mine," commented de Souza on her first quarter run, "it was the other players getting me the ball underneath the basket." De Souza credited her performance to an added focus level and a desire to better help the team. When asked what Angel McCoughtry did to maintain the lead in the fourth quarter, the second year forward quickly stated that it was not just her, but the team as a whole. "It’s not what I did, it’s what the team did," stated McCoughtry, "We played together, we had great blocks, some good steals, tough rebounds, and they all aided our offense." Head Coach Meadors pointed out the play of her bench players and not her starters as the key to the win. "But I thought the one person who really made a huge difference tonight was Alison Bales," Meadors explained, "She had blocked shots, she had rebounds, she shut their two big post players down. But I really think she was huge factor in our victory." De Souza said that the in order to win, the team must continue to play with each other and help each other whenever we can. Team play appears to be the biggest element in Dream wins and if Atlanta players continue to focus importance on team basketball and not individual performances, then the Dream will be looking at a deep post season run.
The game against the Shock marks the first of six straight home games for the Dream. Atlanta, a solid road team so far this season, looks to extend the lead in the Eastern Conference in the friendly confines of Philips Arena. "They’re huge, you have to win for you fans," said Meadors on the importance of the home games in Atlanta. "We have to win as many games as we can," reiterated de Souza, "playing Atlanta basketball, rebounding and running." The Dream’s next opponent is the Phoenix Mercury on June 29th, with tip-off schedule for 7 p.m.

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