McCoughtry scores 18 to lead Dream past Liberty
ATLANTA (AP) When the Atlanta Dream are rolling like this, they don't need Angel McCoughtry to score big. If New York doesn't get a lot of points from its stars, the Liberty are in trouble.
McCoughtry scored 18 points in limited playing time, leading five Atlanta scorers in double digits as the Dream beat the Liberty 85-64 for their franchise record-tying sixth straight victory.
Tiffany Hayes finished with 16 points for Atlanta (9-3), which also won six straight in 2010 and last season. Rookie reserve guard Shoni Shimmel scored 14, Erika de Souza had 11 and Aneika Henry 10.
''It was a very well-played game for our team for the simple fact we stuck with our plan,'' Dream coach Michael Cooper said. ''We knew we had to affect Cappie (Pondexter) or Tina Charles. I felt we did a good on both of them.
Charles and Pondexter scored just six points each - well below their averages of 17.3 and 15.9, respectively, coming in - as New York was handed its most lopsided loss of the season.
Alex Montgomery had 11 points and veteran reserve forward DeLisha Milton-Jones scored 10 to lead the Liberty (3-10), who lost their fifth straight.
Dream forward Sancho Lyttle, who just missed hitting double digits with nine points, said Atlanta's defense was the difference, especially inside on Charles.
Charles shot just 3 for 12, and Atlanta outscored New York 42-30 in the paint even though each team took about the same number of shots inside (New York 34, Atlanta 35).
''We're trying to make their top players not be their top players, and tonight it worked,'' Lyttle said after adding five rebounds and four steals. ''Cappie only had a few points, and the same with Tina.''
The Dream trailed 8-7 early before running past the Liberty on the way to a 21-5 edge in fast-break points. Atlanta led 70-53 entering the fourth quarter, and most starters were on the bench for the final seven or eight minutes.
Although the Dream entered the game averaging a WNBA-worst 17.2 turnovers, they matched their season low (set in Wednesday's win over Washington) with 10 on Friday.
New York shot just 39.4 percent, and managed seven offensive rebounds on a night when they missed 40 shots (26-for-66).
Liberty coach Bill Laimbeer said that he may simplify his team's offense before Sunday's rematch with Atlanta in the Big Apple. He also suggested that Friday's blowout left a sour taste as he believed it had more to do with his team's energy than any scheme.
''I thought we played very hard all year long, every game, every minute,'' he said. ''I thought this one we gave into the frustration and it showed up ... Overall, I think it's individually collective pride, effort that they have to stand up. There were times (Charles) was engaged, and times she wasn't.''
Charles agreed with her coach's assessment.
''It wasn't consistent, I'll say that,'' she said of her play.
Atlanta led 21-17 after one quarter, and pushed the lead to 49-35 by halftime.