ATLANTA (AP) - The Atlanta Dream were sick of losing, so Erika de Souza decided to do something about it.
De Souza tied a career high with 27 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, Lindsey Harding scored 25 points and the Dream rallied for an 87-81 victory over the New York Liberty on Thursday night.
``Having lost the past few games, everybody was angry,' she said. ``So we were focused and just did our best.'
De Souza's size and agility caused matchup problems for the Liberty, who were outscored 46-22 in the paint. She shot 11 for 16 from the field as the Dream (3-7) snapped a two-game skid.
``Erika - they did not have an answer for her down low, so we were attacking inside out,' Harding said. ``Once they doubled her, she did a good job of finding people open and then opening up the lane for me and other players to drive inside.'
Cappie Pondexter scored 24 points for New York (4-5), which couldn't hold a 10-point after Plenette Pierson hit an 18-footer with 3:40 left in the third quarter.
``We kind of gave the game away in the second half,' Pondexter said. ``We didn't execute when we needed to and we turned the ball over in many situations, so there were many little things that we learned from tonight.'
Atlanta went on a 14-3 run that ended with Armintie Price's runner in the final minute of the third period for a 62-61 lead - the Dream's first since the game's early seconds.
``I just felt we were not going to be denied tonight, and it was obvious from the very beginning,' Dream coach Marynell Meadors said. ``We got in a little foul trouble with Angel and couple of others, but we fought through it and we won the game.'
De Souza's two free throws with 5:11 left put Atlanta ahead 73-72 and it never trailed again. She hit a 17-footer from the right baseline for an 83-78 lead as the shot clock was expiring with 45.7 seconds remaining.
Essence Carson scored 12 points and Kia Vaughn 11 for the Liberty, who had won two straight.
New York took its first 10-point lead midway through the first quarter on Carson's 3-pointer. Breland's jumper with 6:22 to go in the second extended the lead to 34-21, the Liberty's biggest advantage of the game.
``In the first half, our plan worked, but in the second half theirs worked,' Liberty coach John Whisenant said. ``They outperformed us. There were no tricks to any of it.'
Nicole Powell opened the third quarter with a pair of 3s that caused Meadors to call timeout with Atlanta trailing 50-39.
Harding's layup helped the Dream cut the lead to five midway through the third, but Pondexter followed with a jumper and Vaughn a pair of layups to make it 56-45.
Pierson left the game briefly with a left ankle injury early in the second. She was being defended by Sandora Irvin from behind when Harding collided with her in front. Pierson returned at the midpoint of the period and finished with eight points and seven rebounds in 27 minutes.
De Souza also scored 27 points on Sept. 4, 2009, at Sacramento.
She was proud of the Dream's ability to score 50 points in the second half despite getting a combined nine points in the game from starters Angel McCoughtry and Iziane Castro-Marques.
``I think in the beginning we were playing well, but then we got down,' De Souza said. ``We kept our focus, and that made the difference.'
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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