Price leads Dream in determined effort to halt losing streak
Dedicated Dream fans wait for players to sign their memorabilia before the game.
ATLANTA â€“ The Atlanta Dream (4-9) came into Saturday night’s home contest against the visiting Chicago Sky (7-8) with only three wins, in contrast to a 9-3 record at the same point in the season last year. Their ninth win last summer also came against the Sky in a road contest that resulted in a 93-86 victory for the Dream. Last night the Dream earned a 76-68 victory in front of a crowd of 7,413 even without starting forward Sancho Lyttle who is still out due to a back injury and a with two-game skid heavy on their minds.
The Dream needed the spark provided by guard Armintie Price who started for the second time this season Saturday night. Price was everywhere on the court and finished with a double-double of 13 points and 10 assists. She also pulled down six rebounds. When asked what was on her mind before the game to help motivate her to play so well, she had a quick, short answer: "the losing."
"You know you want to come home and win," said Price. She said the team had a good shoot around and remained positive heading into the game.
Atlanta started the game on fire and built a 9-0 lead. The Sky did not score until 6:14 in the first quarter courtesy of a jump shot from Michelle Snow. But the Dream continued their shooting prowess and took the lead into double digits when Price had a running layup to put her tea ahead 13-2. The Dream led by as much as 15 before the quarter ended with a score of 20-11 in their favor.
During the second quarter, the Sky immediately rallied with an 11-0 run and tied the game with a free throw from Sylvia Fowles. However, Price and the game’s high scorer Dream forward Angel McCoughtry (24 points) along with point guard Lindsey Harding kept the Dream ahead by a few points for much of the remainder of the half until the last 20 seconds when the Sky’s Epiphanny Prince made three-pointer to tie the game up at 33 going into the break.
In their previous game against the Sky on July 9 in Chicago, Prince was on fire and blasted the Dream with 24 points. However, Atlanta held her to just 11 points on Saturday.
Price said Atlanta specifically worked on ways to limit Prince because of how well the young guard played the last time the two teams met.
"[I]n the last game, she, well I’m not going to say what our coaches said but she got us pretty good," said Price, "and we knew we had to hold her down and of course keep Sylvia [Fowles] out of the paint….We just tried to keep them unbalanced."
Chicago center Fowles lead her team with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
The third quarter was precarious for Atlanta as the Sky came out with a balanced scoring effort and built an eight-point lead. However, the Dream maintained their composure and tied the game up at 47 at the 3:40 mark.
"We knew the third quarter was a little rocky for us," said Price, "but we wanted to keep it close so then in the fourth quarter we could go ahead an make that final punch. So in the fourth quarter we just tried to hold each other together and not panic because we know we’ve been rocky lately and just try to use our positions wisely."
With the score at 54-52 to start the fourth quarter and a two-point deficit on their minds, the Dream quickly rattled off eight points to take the lead again and never looked back.
McCoughtry cited her team’s positive mentality throughout the game as the main catalyst for hanging on even in the face of the turbulent third quarter.
"Once we changed our mentality, you see what happened tonight," she said. "It’s all about the mentality. Sometimes you’re going to lose some, even when you play great but you have got to maintain your confidence."
McCoughtry also gave credit to the Dream fans for helping them over the third quarter slump.
"The fans were great tonight," she said. "They really helped us. They were our sixth man"
Chicago head coach Pokey Chatman credited the Dream’s starters for keeping her team on its heels.
"Their prime time players stepped up and hit shots," said Chatman. She mentioned Erika De Souza’s shots from the baseline: "she was catching and shooting. I think when you have those easy ones, you have confidence and get momentum and keep shooting."
De Souza finished with 12 points and eight rebounds and Harding added 14 points and six rebounds.
Her reply to a question about what the Sky needed to do to overcome the road loss: "take care the ball and practice and soon as they can get me into the gym tomorrow."
The Sky head home to face the Seattle Storm (7-6) on Tuesday, July 19. The Storm lost on the road against the Minnesota Lynx (9-4) Saturday night 69-62.
Atlanta will host the Indiana Fever on Tuesday.
All teams in the league are on a break at the end of the week. The All-Star game takes place in San Antonio on Saturday, July 23. McCoughtry is a starter for the East team.