The Atlanta Dream and Chicago Sky came into Saturday’s matchup looking to redeem themselves after suffering a loss the game before. The Dream couldn’t find a way to come out victorious on their home court as they suffer their 7th consecutive loss after falling to the Sky, 87-75.
Within the first few minutes of the game the Dream couldn’t execute inside the paint which contributed to their slow start. However, Jessica Breland’s 21-foot jumper and quick turnaround three gave the Dream the first lead of the game and lingered all the way until the end of the first quarter where they led, 25-17.
The dominance and energy the Dream displayed on the offensive and defensive end of the floor in the first quarter didn’t persist into the second. Chicago took a slight lead late in the second quarter, Atlanta had no answer and were left to play catch-up until the final buzzer sounded.
To end the first half, the Sky led the Dream 46-42 behind Allie Quigley and Courtney Vandersloot’s eight points. The Dream’s Alex Bentley led both teams in scoring with 13 points.
The Dream couldn’t make consistent shots from inside the paint and never shot above 40 percent since the end of the first quarter. Atlanta is 1-13 when shooting below 40 percent from the field while Chicago is 10-1 when shooting a higher FG% than their opponents.
Atlanta was left to start the second half without star guard, Tiffany Hayes after she went down late in the second quarter with what appeared to be a hard hit to the nose. Hayes ended the night with nine points.
The physicality and team chemistry of the Sky was too much for the Dream to overcome. They led by as much as 16 points and never trailed. Chicago shot well over 40% from the field all game and made a significant number of threes, making 11 of 25. The Sky had three players reach double digits to end the game. Vandersloot tallied up 13 points, Diamond DeShields finished the night with a double-double after racking up 12 points and 12 boards, and Stefanie Dolson had a team high of 16 points.
The Dream’s head coach Nicki Collen knew what to expect from the Sky after facing them earlier in the season and wanted her team to play more aggressive and consistent.
“I think Chicago is probably offensively, besides Washington, the best offensive team in this league. They can stretch the floor at all five positions a lot of the time. It wasn’t one person that beat us, it was kind of a collective roster. I thought it would take 80 to beat them,” said Collen.
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“You just can’t win in this league if you shoot 35 percent. We’re shooting 36.5 percent going into this game and we shot 35 percent. You have to score against Chicago, they’re a really good offensive team, really good.”
From Jessica Breland’s perspective, the level of energy proved to have a significant contribution to how the Dream started the game and how they ended it. A lot of that had to do with her teammate, Hayes.
“We started off really well, energy was high. A lot of that was Tiffany Hayes. You saw she got out and she stole the ball, she hit this crazy layup – all that gives us energy. We kind of lost it,” Breland said.
“We had that stretch when we were just standing around because Tiffany was down, that kind of took away some of our energy. Like Coach said, we just gotta go out there and run around and find it no matter what.”
Breland scored a season-high 18 points and led the team in rebounds for the fourth time this season with seven. Alongside her was Alex Bently who set a new season high record with 21 points and four rebounds.
The Atlanta Dream are now 5-17 overall and the long string of disappointment continues but fans have to remain hopeful that it’ll be broken when they return to State Farm Arena to face off against the Minnesota Lynx on Tuesday night.