ATLANTA (AP) — Sidney Spencer hit a tying basket on her only shot of the game with 0.2 seconds left in regulation, Leilani Mitchell made a clinching 3-pointer in overtime and the New York Liberty rallied to beat the Atlanta Dream 94-88 on Sunday.
Plenette Pierson scored 25 points to lead the Liberty in the opener for both teams, a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference finals won by the Dream in a sweep.
The Liberty took advantage of an Atlanta team missing its top player, Angel McCoughtry, who sprained her left knee in camp and didn’t dress.
Spencer played just 5 minutes but sent the game to overtime after a deflected ball led to a quick improvisation, a nifty pass leaving her with an open look on the baseline. Mitchell finished off the Dream with a 3 from the corner with 28 seconds left in overtime.
Iziane Castro Marques led Atlanta with 19 points, Sancho Lyttle added 18 and Lindsey Harding doled out nine assists in her Dream debut. But Harding also missed a late free throw could’ve put it away.
The game was tight throughout, never getting into double figures for either team. Atlanta appeared to be in control after pulling out to its biggest lead, 68-62, with 5 minutes to go.
New York bounced back, taking advantage of the Dream’s struggles at the foul line (18 of 28). Still, the home team was in good shape when Lyttle hit a pair of free throws with 33 seconds left, then came up with a big steal as Cappie Pondexter tried to feed the ball inside to Pierson.
The Liberty was forced to foul, and Harding hit only one of two free throws with 19 seconds left to give New York a chance, down 77-74.
Nicole Powell took advantage, dribbling around in the corner until she spotted the slightest of openings. She got her feet behind the line and launched a 3-pointer that hit nothing but net with 9 seconds remaining. She finished with 17 points.
Harding made up for her missed free throw, driving into the lane and putting up a shot over Pondexter that bounced off the rim twice before dropping through with 3.2 seconds left.
After a timeout, Atlanta got a hand on the ball but Spencer wound up with an open 10-footer on the baseline. She swished her lone shot, sending the game to overtime tied at 79.
Last year, the Dream swept New York to reach the WNBA finals for the first time. Before the game, Atlanta raised a banner honoring its conference title — the first for any team that plays at Philips Arena, which also hosts the NBA Hawks and is the former home of the NHL Thrashers, who recently announced they are moving to Winnipeg.
The Dream was swept in three straight games by Seattle, but lost by a total of only seven points. Looking to build on that success, Atlanta addressed its main need at point guard by trading for Harding on draft day.
NOTES: Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed took part in the pregame ceremony and stayed around to cheer on the Dream from a front row seat. … Kia Vaughn fouled out for New York in overtime. … Coco Miller added 16 points for Atlanta. … Pierson also had 10 rebounds, leading New York to a 34-32 edge on the boards. … The Liberty went 10 of 11 at the foul line.