McCoughtry, Lyttle lead Dream over Stars 81-79
SAN ANTONIO (AP) The Atlanta Dream were not going to let anything take away from a big road victory, even though they nearly blew it in the final minutes.
Angel McCoughtry scored 18 points and Sancho Lyttle had 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Atlanta held on for an 81-79 victory over the San Antonio Stars on Thursday night.
''It was a great win,'' Lyttle said. ''It came down to the end. Most games are going to come like that, and we kept our poise.''
Tiffany Hayes added 15 points and Erika de Souza 14 points for Atlanta (10-4), which never trailed in winning for the seventh time in eight games. The Dream have the league's best record.
Becky Hammon's 3-pointer capped a 10-0 run that pulled San Antonio within 77-74 with 57.2 seconds remaining.
McCoughtry made a pair of free throws and Celine Dumerc added another to extend the lead to 80-76. San Antonio forward Shameka Christon hit a 3-pointer with 2.3 seconds remaining to cut the lead to 80-79, but the Stars were unable to complete the rally.
''We were backpedaling a little bit,'' Lyttle said. ''Maybe it was fatigue or maybe it was them. We've got to play 40 minutes. They were shooting 3s and they got back in the game with four 3s. If you look at stats like that, we weren't playing our defense.''
San Antonio reserve Jia Perkins scored 17 points before leaving the game in the third quarter with a strained right hamstring. Christon added 14 points and Shenise Johnson 10. Hammon finished with eight.
''I definitely think that we were worried about (Perkins),'' Johnson said. ''Jia gives us that energy and that spark. She is instant buckets for us. I wouldn't say we lost our focus, but I would say we dropped our shoulders a little bit.''
The Stars (7-8) lost their second straight after a three-game winning streak.
Atlanta scored the game's first nine points, taking a 17-7 lead before San Antonio's bench sparked a rally.
The Stars' reserves had 24 of their 42 first-half points, including 11 by Perkins, in cutting the Dream's lead to 45-42 entering the third quarter. San Antonio's bench finished with 52.
''I didn't like our focus early,'' Stars coach Dan Hughes said. ''You have to look at the facts, and we had 52 points coming off the bench. They are a good basketball team. There is a reason they are leading the East. They are very athletic, and they create a lot of difficulties for us. We were just trying to get a rhythm.''
Dumerc had a point and seven assists in front of San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker, who also is from France.
The 31-year-old rookie made her WNBA debut June 3 after completing her season with a French team.
''One reason we like Celine was her ability to make other players on the floor better,'' Atlanta coach Michael Cooper said. ''She's slowly but surely getting acclimated to the WNBA. She's understanding our philosophies and schemes on offense and defense that we want.''