WASHINGTON (AP) - The Atlanta Dream are going to the playoffs and the Washington Mystics are just finishing up another disappointing season.
It didn't look that way early Friday night as the Mystics built an 11-point third quarter lead. Washington's upset hopes soon faded, however.
Angel McCoughtry scored 26 points and Lindsey Harding added 19 to help the Dream rally and beat the Mystics 82-74.
Atlanta (18-14), third in the Eastern Conference with two games to play, has won six-of-seven.
``We came out a little flat. I felt our energy level wasn't that high in the first half, and in the second half we picked it up with some more intensity on defense and made a few more shots,' Atlanta coach Fred Williams said. ``Washington came after us.'
Atlanta trailed by 10 points at halftime after turning the ball over 10 times and surrendering 21 second chance points to the Mystics.
``They were out-rebounding us and getting a lot of second chance points which got them a good lead,' McCoughtry said. ``We just had to adjust and get on the boards in the second half.'
Monique Currie led Washington (5-26) with 20 points and Matee Ajavon added 15.
``We played well for probably about three and a half quarters,' Currie said. ``Atlanta made some tough shots in the fourth quarter. Angel took over a little bit, but they hit some big shots and we didn't.'
Washington's leading scorer, Crystal Langhorne, left in the second quarter with a left foot strain and did not return.
Trailing by four early in the fourth quarter, Atlanta went on an 8-0 run and eventually led by five. The Mystics tied it at 65 on a 3-pointer by Currie.
Atlanta went ahead for good on McCoughtry's two free throws with 3:28 left. After a Washington miss, McCoughtry sandwiched a jumper and a 3-pointer around a free throw by Currie to make it 72-66 with 2:18 to play and Washington got no closer than within four points and the rest of the way.
``We did some isolation plays for her to create some things and she's a good one-on-one player and she just made some clutch baskets for us,' Williams said of McCoughtry.
The WNBA's leading scorer, McCoughtry hit 10-of-18 field goal attempts.
The Mystics have lost 10 straight and are 1-12 since the Olympic break.
``It's frustrating, but all we can do is continue to work and continue to compete,' Currie said. ``We only have three or four more games but we'll play it out till the end.'
Atlanta swept the season series from Washington 4-0.
Trailing 50-39 early in the third quarter, Atlanta used an 8-0 run that started and ended with Harding jumpers to get within three.
Sancho Lyttle's jumper tied the score at 54. Atlanta trailed by two after three quarters.
The Dream turned the ball over seven times in the first quarter and Ashley Robinson's layup off her rebound of a Jasmine Thomas miss gave the Mystics an early 16-5 lead.
Atlanta briefly took the lead, 24-22, midway through the second quarter, but Washington went on a 14-2 run keyed by Currie (six points) to build a 10-point lead.
The Mystics outrebounded the Dream 25-14 in the half.
``They really pounded us on the boards, got some second effort shots on us,' Williams said.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved