In the team’s first of six games without forward Sancho Lyttle, the Dream rebounded from its lone loss of the season with a 68-59 win over the Seattle Storm on Friday.
The Dream outscored the Storm 17-4 in the third quarter to break the game open at 55-39 after a tight first half.
“I thought we came pretty strong in the first quarter, and then we kind of let up a little bit,” Dream coach Fred Williams said. “I kept telling our players to play through it and that we’d get our shots in the second half.
“In the second half, we just turned it up a little bit, getting some transitions baskets, some run outs and up-tempoed our defense a little bit.”
Forward Angel McCoughtry powered the Dream with a game-high 23 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. McCoughtry was aggressive on offense, attempting 20 shots and making 11. The Dream didn’t take a 3-point shot.
“I thought Angel McCoughtry just came on fire at times to make some great plays for us, some backbreakers,” Williams said. “She’s playing exciting basketball, and her teammates fed off of her.”
Guard Jasmine Thomas put in 13 points, while rookie guard Alex Bentley added 11 points off the bench. The Dream shot 42 percent from the floor, but continued their poor shooting from 3-point range, making 22 percent.
Le’Coe Willingham started in place of Lyttle and while she didn’t score, Willingham grabbed eight rebounds and was active on defense during her 26 minutes of action.
“She got some really key rebounds down the stretch for us, in crowds,” Williams said. “The more she gets minutes, the more she’ll settle into what we’re doing on the floor on offense and defense.”
Forward Tina Thompson, the only player to compete in all WNBA seasons to date, led the Storm with 11 points and seven rebounds. Guard Temeka Johnson was the only other Storm player in double-digits with 11 points.
Thompson, the first overall pick in the inaugural WNBA draft in 1997, recently announced that she will retire after this season. The 16-year veteran led the Houston Comets to the first four WNBA titles between 1997 and 2000. The 38-year-old Thompson will retire as the league’s all-time leading scorer.
The Dream trailed for much of the first half, before a late run gave them a 38-35 advantage at halftime. The Dream dominated the Storm inside, with 34 points in the paint. The Dream also forced 18 turnovers and converted them into 21 points. The Dream held the Storm to 34 percent shooting from the floor, including 37 percent from behind the arc.
The Dream are now 5-1 and undefeated at home.
“Our goal is to play exciting basketball for our fans, and I think we’re doing that,” Williams said. “With wins or losses, we want to really keep building ourselves toward the ending of the season and be in a great spot to contend to be in a playoff spot.”
The Dream return to action Sunday when the Chicago Sky and rookie sensation Elena Delle Donne travel to Philips Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.