Fourth-quarter surge powers Atlanta past Dallas in season opener, 76-72

The fourth quarter is the charm for the Dream

May 24, 2019. Photo: NBAE/Getty Images.

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Power forward Jessica Breland led the Atlanta Dream to a 76-72 win over the Dallas Wings in the first game of the WNBA’s 23rd season Friday night at State Farm Arena. The win did not come easy for the Dream as the home team had to overcome a five-point halftime deficit and an underwhelming third quarter to overtake the Wings in the last period.

“It’s never an easy night in this league,” Atlanta head coach Nicki Collen said. “You just don’t see a lot of blowout wins in the WNBA…you have to grind wins out because every team is good.”

Things looked rosy for the Dream in the first period as veteran guard Renee Montgomery led her team with seven points to help them take a 20-19 lead going into the second period. Dallas started out slow but managed to climb out of a nine-point deficit at the 3:50 mark to end the first ten minutes with a 13-5 run.

The Wings continued their momentum in the second quarter with a 10-0 streak that Dream guard Brittney Sykes halted with a pull up jumper. At the break, Dallas lead 39-34.

The third quarter saw the Wings assert themselves to outscore the Dream 16-13 and head into the final quarter with a 55-47 advantage. However, fate would not be on the side of the visitors in the last ten minutes.

A 13-5 run by the Dream put the game in a tie at 60 all. Another tie came at 2:49 when both teams had 65 points. The Wings seemed to have the momentum to take the game, breaking the tie on a 6-0 run. A three-pointer from Montgomery turned the tide and became the catalyst for her team to pull out the win with a mixture of shots from Sykes, Breland and forward Tiffany Hayes.

The Dream had a slight edge with points in the paint, 36 to 34, over the Wings. However, Dallas led in second-chance points with 19 compared to Atlanta’s 15 and pulled down 42 rebounds compared to 31 for Atlanta. The teams finished with 12 fast break points each.

Breland completed her night with a game-high 17 points plus six rebounds. Montgomery added 15 points plus four assists while Sykes contributed 10 points and four assists.

Wings guard Allisha Gray came off the bench to lead her team with 14 points plus four assists. Rookie guard Arike Ogunbowale had a productive first regular season outing as a pro with 12 points. Dallas forward Glory Johnson grabbed a game-high nine rebounds for the Wings.

In his first season as the Wings head coach, Brian Agler came away from the game with an optimistic outlook.

“I saw a lot of positive things,” Agler said. “I thought we battled, competed defensively for the most part. We weren’t playing exactly to our scout but we hung in there we made some plays we rebounded pretty well. You know just a disappointing outcome.”

Dream star, guard/forward Angel McCoughtry who averages 19.2 points per game over her career, did not play as she is out indefinitely as she recovers from a left knee injury sustained late last season. Collen told the Baltimore Sun earlier this month that McCoughtry will be evaluated “month to month, strength test to strength test.”

Atlanta hosts Seattle next Friday, May 31. Dallas head home to play the Minnesota Lynx the next day, Saturday, June 1.


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