ATLANTA — Hot start to the Dreams’ return to State Farm Arena was the only thing they needed to run off to a 78-75 victory over the Connecticut Suns.
“Now that looked more like a Dream game from last year,” Nicki Collen said. “In their last four losses, teams have shot 60 percent from the field in the first quarter against them and we’ve struggled to make open shots in the first quarter all season, so we talked about that before the game. I thought we not only got good shots but really stuck them early.”
Jessica Breland was the rebounding machine with 13 total rebounds. Tiffany Hayes compiled 18 points while Elizabeth Williams added 17.
“If you look at Elizabeth’s line, she was 5-for-10 and her first two layups were blocked,” Collen said. “After those first two shots were blocked she just put everything in the basket for the most part.”
Another contributing factor to the win was Renee Montgomery’s 12 points and Alex Bentley’s 11.
It was arguably one of the best first quarter performances of the season for the Atlanta Dream, a staggering 52.4% shooting percentage from the paint and another 57.1% from deep led to an 11-point lead at the end of the first quarter.
Unfortunately, most of what the Dream started with, ended in the second quarter. The Dream struggled to shoot and rebound at the same clip they started with. Add in the fact that recently released Natisha Hiedeman was on the opposite sideline and posted 10 points in the second quarter, Atlanta was in trouble.
Atlanta entered the second half with a narrow 43-41 lead over the Suns. A misstep in the second and third quarter drastically changed how things looked for the Dream. A third-quarter tie with each side matched up at 56-56 gave fans a true treat.
Throughout the fourth quarter, Atlanta outscored the Sun 22-19 and relied on a few free throws to seal the victory.
In the loss, Connecticut saw double-digit scores from Courtney Williams (13), Bria Holmes and Jasmine Thomas (12), Jonquel Jones (11) and Hiedeman (10).
This was the third time the Dream faced off against the Sun in three weeks.
“When we saw the schedule we were like, ‘Geez, we’re playing four times in 40 days,’” Collen said. “We continue to understand each other and do things different scheme-wise and defensively. Curt (Miler) and I think alike quite frankly. It was almost comical when we coached together because we’d catch ourselves thinking that way. It’s less about sometimes your scheme and executing at a higher level.”