ATLANTA (AP) — Dream coach Michael Cooper got just the defensive contributions he wanted from Tiffany Hayes and Angel McCoughtry.
Cooper assigned Hayes to guard Maya Moore and McCoughtry to defend Seimone Augustus. His plan went well.
“Our pick-and-roll coverage worked to perfection and again,” Cooper said. “We just wanted to limit one of those players. It was going to be hard to limit two. But we held both to under 20 points, and if you can do that against any team you give yourself a chance to win.”
McCoughtry scored 23 points, Erika de Souza had 16 points and 11 rebounds and Atlanta held off the Minnesota Lynx 85-82 on Friday night.
The Dream had lost 12 of their last 13 games against the Lynx, including sweeps in the 2011 and 2013 WNBA Finals. However, Atlanta (6-3) sealed its third straight victory when McCoughtry grabbed a defensive rebound, was fouled by Moore and hit an ensuing free throw with 2.8 seconds remaining.
Lindsay Whalen finished with 22 points to tie her season high, Janel McCarville scored a season-high 18 and Augustus had 17 for Minnesota (8-2).
Moore, the finals MVP last season, had 10 points and nine rebounds. She was just 2 for 11 from the field.
“We practice (defending the pick-and-roll) a lot in practice to make sure that we are in the right place,” Hayes said, “so if someone’s driving we know exactly where they are going to be.”
Sancho Lyttle added 10 points and 12 rebounds, Hayes finished with 15 points and Jasmine Thomas had 13 as Atlanta’s five starters each scored in double figures.
The Lynx, who began the season with six straight wins, gave up the lead for good when Thomas’ layup made it 11-10 midway through the first quarter.
Trailing by 17 to begin the third, the Lynx trimmed the lead to nine on Whalen’s second straight jumper at the 6:29 mark.
But McCoughtry pushed the lead to 61-46 with consecutive 3s, and the Dream led by 13 entering the fourth.
Minnesota cut the lead to 77-74 on Tricia Liston’s 3 with 5:06 remaining, and a pair of free throws by Moore made it 82-80 at the 1:58 mark.
After McCoughtry hit an 18-footer with 42.8 seconds to go for an 84-80 lead, Augustus’ 14-footer made it 84-82, but the Lynx’s last field-goal attempt fell into McCoughtry’s hands on Whalen’s missed runner.
“We played very well in the second half,” Moore said. “The type of push we had, the energy that we played with, it was really good. The focus of people coming out of the bench was great. We just can’t have a first half like we did.”
Thomas hit her first three attempts beyond the arc and had 11 points in the first half. Her 3 from the right side made it 45-26 late in the second quarter.
Atlanta took the game’s biggest lead at 20 on McCoughtry’s free throw with 2:05 left in the second. The Dream were up 50-33 at halftime.
Dream reserve guard Shoni Schimmel finished with two assists to become just the sixth WNBA rookie to have at least 52 through first nine games of her career.
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