Erica Wheeler’s clutch three leads Dream to victory
On a day where there was only one WNBA game on the schedule, you’d assume it would have been quiet. This wasn’t the case for the last day of June, as yesterday we had a classic. The only game of the day happened to be a nighttime showdown at the Barclays Center with the Atlanta Dream facing the New York Liberty.
The Liberty were coming off an 81-77 victory against the Connecticut Sun on Wednesday, where they sunk 13 three-pointers and had five players score in double-figures.
The Dream on the other hand, were fresh off a 74-92 defeat at the hands of the Washington Mystics. Having dropped eight of their last 10, Atlanta was in dire need of a win Thursday night.
This wasn’t New York and Atlanta’s first time facing off this year. In fact, they faced off less than a week ago where we saw a Liberty victory and a “night night” celebration from Sabrina Ionescu.
Little did Ionescu know, that wouldn’t be the last time the “night night” celebration would be used during a Liberty game this season.
Last night’s game started close. The Liberty ended the first quarter up five and Atlanta followed that by outscoring New York by 10 in the second to take a five-point lead going into the half. The third quarter is when the Dream started to pull away. Volume shooting (Atlanta finished the game with 15 more shot attempts than New York) was the reason Atlanta held a 61-48 lead to start the fourth. Then came the Liberty.
Stefanie Dolson scored the first nine Liberty points in the fourth, part of an 18-2 run to give them the lead in the middle of the quarter. They held this lead all the way till the end. Well, almost till the end. Erica Wheeler hit a massive three to send the game into overtime. After the shot, Wheeler made sure to hit the “night night” celebration, a nod to Ionescu a few nights before.
Fortunately, for Wheeler and the Dream, the shot did in fact put the Liberty to sleep.
Atlanta started OT with two big buckets from Tiffany Hayes, who was playing her first game of the season, after prior overseas commitments and a right knee injury. These buckets were the start of a 9-0 run in an overtime where New York was held to only two points. The 92-81 victory snapped a three-game losing streak for the Dream. Hayes scored a game-high 21 points.
With Hayes back in the lineup, Atlanta’s leading returning scorer from last season, the Dream are hoping to gain momentum and hold onto a playoff spot, as they currently see themselves with the 6th best record in the league.
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