It’s not just the playoffs, it’s the last step before the WNBA Finals. The Atlanta Dream, who won the regular season series between the two (they won two out of three games against Washington), were in a battle for the ages in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
The game changing moment came with three minutes left in the match when Washington Mystics star Elena Delle Donne went down with an injury and had to be helped off the floor.
Coach Nicki Collen had much more depth in this match as we saw the likes of Blake Dietrick and Imani McGee-Stafford take the floor. Because of this, the score sheet was pretty even amongst the players. In Game 1, Monique Billings was a standout and helped the Dream when in a crunch. Tonight, Alex Bentley stepped up and provided a much needed boost when the team needed it most. She tallied a team high 22 points.
Tiffany Hayes notched 17 points, seven rebounds, and six assists while Elizabeth Williams and Jessica Breland earned double-doubles. Williams had 11 rebounds and 10 points and Breland earned 10 points and 14 rebounds.
The second half ended up sealing the win for the Dream. They outscored the Mystics 24-22 in the third quarter and 20-17 in the fourth. They needed this second half push because the Mystics would not let up, with the same support duo backing up Delle Donne in Natasha Cloud and Kristi Toliver.
When the game came down to a crunch in the fourth, Delle Donne tripped and immediately grabbed her knee once she fell. The entire bench ran to the aid of their captain which let us know immediately that this was a serious injury. Could this be the break the Dream needed? Could this be… A dream?
It was all of that combined as the final three minutes saw the Mystics lose their composure and turnovers came about. A few bad calls went the Mystics’ way but those were negated by bad free throw shooting (something rarely seen by the Mystics and just after a 100% efficiency in Game 1).
The final score was 78-75 and an accurate reflection on exactly how close this game was. Game 3 will be in Washington D.C., where the Dream nabbed one of their two wins against them during the regular season.
Photo: Hakim Wright