NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Angel McCoughtry scored 23 points and Sancho Lyttle added 19 to lead the Atlanta Dream to a 74-64 victory over the New York Liberty on Sunday.
McCoughtry shot 7 for 20 from the field and 7 for 9 on free throws in her return after missing two games due to a knee injury, helping the Dream (5-7) snap a two-game skid.
Leilani Mitchell scored 16 points, Kara Braxton had 14, and Cappie Pondexter and DeMya Walker added 12 each as New York (4-9) lost for the fourth time in five games. New York’s lone win during that stretch came at Atlanta last Tuesday in a game McCoughtry missed.
After Walker’s layup gave New York a 42-38 lead 13 seconds into the third quarter, Atlanta took control of the game with a 20-2 run. The Liberty got no closer than eight the rest of the way.
McCoughtry started it off with a 3 and Aneika Henry’s layup put the Dream ahead for good with 9:12 remaining in the third. McCoughtry’s layup with 7 1/2 to go in the period put Atlanta ahead 49-42.
Kia Vaughn’s jumper ended the Liberty’s scoring drought 13 seconds later, but the Dream scored the next nine points to stretch their lead to 58-44 on Lindsey Harding’s jumper with 3:16 left in the third.
Yelena Leuchanka’s jumper with just under 7 minutes remaining in the fourth put Atlanta ahead 70-52, the Dream’s biggest advantage of the game.
Pondexter and Braxton each had two baskets as New York scored the next eight points to pull within 10 with 3:07 to go. Pondexter fouled out of the game 15 seconds later and McCoughtry made two free throws to push Atlanta’s lead back to 12.
Walker had a layup with 2:37 to go and then hit 2 of 4 from the line to pull New York to 72-64 in the final minute. McCoughtry closed the scoring with two free throw with about 17 seconds to go.
Trailing by 10 after one quarter, the Liberty slowly cut into the Dream’s lead. Mitchell’s 3 cut the deficit to seven less than 2 minutes into the second. Then, Vaughn had six points during a 9-1 run that pulled New York to 33-31 with 4:08 left in the first half.
After McCoughtry made three of four from the line in a 30-second span for Atlanta, Vaughn and Essence Carson both hit jumpers to get the Liberty to 36-35.
McCoughtry and Carson traded baskets before Mitchell’s fifth 3 of the game gave New York a 40-38 lead at the break.
Atlanta used an 18-2 run to take a 24-12 lead late in the first quarter. Lyttle’s three-point play capped an 11-point spurt that gave the Dream a 17-10 lead with 3:43 to go in the period. After Braxton’s bank shot ended New York’s 3-minute scoring drought, the Dream scored the next seven points to take their 12-point lead on Leuchanka’s layup with about 1 1/2 minutes remaining in the opening period.
Mitchell had a 3-pointer and a free throw in the final minute of the period to pull New York to 26-16 heading to the second.