This was the game the fans had been waiting for! The #1 team in the East (Atlanta) against the #1 in the West (Phoenix). The Dream were looking to shake their 5 game losing streak by beating their Western Conference equal.
The big matchup of the night would be Brittney Griner and Erika De Souza. The game was off to a fast start and Griner was quick to make her presence known. She only had 1 rebound but scored 7 points, which is a big deal because the score was 16-13 in favor of the Mercury (meaning she scored over half of her teams points).
Tiffany Hayes was off to a great start making some key plays in the 1st Quarter. She had 5 points, 1 rebound, and an assist. Sancho Lyttle and Aneika Henry had 4 points. The Quarter ended with the Dream down by 8 but Tiffany Hayes solidified her leadership role with 10 total points for the Quarter. It should be noted that Angel McCoughtry was out with tendonitis.
The scoring for the Mercury was more widespread, as 8 of their players had registered points 2 minutes into the 2nd Quarter. Griner still led the team with 7 points but Erin Phillips was close behind with 5 and Dewanna Bonner and Mistie Bass had 4.
With 4 mins. left to go, Shoni Schimmel was on fire hitting 2/3 3-pointers, going 100% from the free throw line, and scoring a total of 15 points. Tiffany Hayes had 12 points and was also shooting 100% from the line. Phoenix continued to send the Dream to the line as they went over the foul limit at the beginning of the 2nd Quarter.
The 1st Half ended 55-41, the Dream were 14 points ahead of their Western Conference rivals. Schimmel was on fire taking her point-total up to 20.
The Dream poured on the pressure in the 2nd Half taking the lead to a high of 28 points. Where Shoni Schimmel stopped, Hayes, Henry, and De Souza picked up, scoring 19, 13, and 12 points respectively. Nadia Colhado came off the bench and put up 8 points mid-way through the 4th Quarter. For the Mercury, Brittney Griner was shutdown after the 1st Quarter and only score once afterwards (totaling 9 points and 5 rebounds). Erin Phillips led the Mercury with 14 points while Shay Murphy led the team with 6 assists.
With the Dream ahead 88 to 63, they could afford to rotate more players off the bench. With this big win, they would finally snap their 5-game losing skid. This is just the kind of confidence boost they need as their last regular-season home game will come on Friday, August 15, against the Tulsa Shock.
The final score was Atlanta Dream 96, Phoenix Mercury 82. Erin Phillips finished with a team high 21 points for Phoenix, while Shoni Schimmel finished with a team high of 24 for the Dream. There was an energetic 7,663 in attendance and it should also be noted that all players on both rosters registered points.
Be sure to support the ladies during their playoff run! You can get your playoff tickets HERE
Photo: Hakim Wright