Blood, Sweat But No Tears for Dream

Sep 12 2010 8:10PM
Seattle – The Atlanta Dream’s Angel McCoughtry sat at her locker following the Game One loss to the Storm sweaty and bloodied from a hard-fought, nail-biting finish that ultimately ended with Seattle taking an early 1-0 series lead. The sweat came from her tireless effort to keep the Dream in the running for a ‘W,’ dropping 19 points on 6-of-17 shooting, including a perfect seven-for-seven from the free throw line. The blood, from a collision with Seattle’s Jana Vesela just over a minute into the fourth quarter.

“I don’t know what it was but I know I ended up with a big gash,” said McCoughtry. “But in this moment you can’t be getting hurt.”

As a testament to McCoughtry’s will to win, a brief timeout was all she needed before nailing two free throws that were awarded on the collision. In a way that incident stands as a metaphor to Atlanta’s tenacity following Game One. “You can knock us down,” it says, “but we’re getting right back up.”

Atlanta entered the WNBA Finals as the top rebounding team during the regular season. However, in Game One at KeyArena, the Storm was the team that took the slight edge in a 36-34 battle of the boards. Slight as it may be, it’s not the sort of thing Dream head coach Marynell Meadors wants to see in Game Two.

“We can do a better job rebounding,” she said, acknowledging her team’s ability to fight it out throughout the game. “They out-rebounded us by a couple, and I think we can do a better job rebounding. [If] we rebound, we can push the ball a little more.”

Plenty of talk heading into this best-of-five series was rightfully centered on how the two teams matched up point for point, rebound for rebound and block for block. But by halftime that question had yet to be answered, as the two teams entered the second half tied not only in points with 39, but also in offensive rebounds (six), defensive rebounds (14) and steals (four). What’s more, Atlanta’s 16-for-39 shooting (41 percent) was just slightly better than Seattle’s 15-for-37 (40.5 percent).

“We knew we just had a comeback in that quarter and we were losing by 10 points in the first and we came back,” said Iziane Castro Marques, whose three-point buzzer beater evened up the score heading into halftime. “I tied the game in the end and we’re like, ‘We’re right there. We just need to come back strong and keep ourselves in the position to do it.’ And we did it. We just couldn’t make it, but we did it to put us in a position to make it at the end.”

With the score tied at 77 apiece, Seattle’s Sue Bird stepped up and nailed a field goal with 2.6 seconds remaining on the clock to put the Storm up by two. Even still, the Dream didn’t count themselves out.

“We had a chance at the end and that’s what you’re looking for. You look for a chance to win or tie, and we had a look at it,” said Meadors. “I’m really proud of our players. I thought they fought and they fought and they had a lot of courage throughout the game.”

After taking a timeout to draw up a play, Atlanta broke from the huddle and jogged back to the court to take one last shot to either tie the game or steal the win. The inbound pass found the hands of McCoughtry, who flicked her wrist from beyond the arc and sent the ball sailing as time expired. The shot bounced off the rim and onto the hardwood, sending the home crowd at KeyArena into a frenzy as a giant sigh of relief swept over the Storm.

“It’s a great place to play and they play great at home,” said Castro Marques. “To have a chance to have them lose here, just to get that chance – in the game we had it. It didn’t work in the end for us but we’ll see. Next game we’ll come back again and try to win.”

Foul trouble left McCoughtry on the bench for most of the first half. While Atlanta was able to head into halftime without its All-Star, having her out there could’ve just as easily swayed things in the Dream’s favor. Even still, Meadors admires her player’s ability to battle through it all.

“Angel got in foul trouble and sat for a while,” she said. “And then she got hit in the head and stepped up there like a trooper and made those two free throws and we got her medical attention and she came back.”

Battered but not broken, there were a few smiling faces around the locker room following the game. The team’s ability to keep it close with Seattle showed that Atlanta is capable of staying neck and neck with the Storm in all facets of the games. Or perhaps it’s the other way around.

“We proved they can stick with us,” said McCoughtry. “What do you mean stick with them? We’re just as good as them. This game could’ve went either way.”

Tuesday on ESPN2, the Dream aim to hand Seattle its first loss of the postseason and send the series back to Atlanta tied at one apiece.
Series Info
Game 1: SEA 79, ATL 77: Box | Recap | Photos | Video
Game 2: SEA 87, ATL 84: Box | Recap | Photos | Video
Game 3: SEA 87, ATL 84: Box | Recap | Photos | Video


Gm 1: SEA 82, PHX 74
Box | Recap | Photos
Gm 2: SEA 91, PHX 88
Box | Recap | Photos

Gm 1: SEA 79, LAS 66
Box | Recap | Photos
Gm 2: SEA 81, LAS 66
Box | Recap | Photos

Gm 1: PHX 106, SAN 93
Box | Recap | Photos
Gm 2: PHX 92, SAN 73
Box | Recap | Photos


Gm 1: ATL 81, NYL 75
Box | Recap | Photos
Gm 2: ATL 105, NYL 93
Box | Recap | Photos

Gm 1: ATL 95 WAS 90
Box | Recap | Photos
Gm 2: ATL 101 WAS 77
Box | Recap | Photos

Gm 1: NYL 85, IND 73
Box | Recap | Photos
Gm 2: IND 75, NYL 67
Box | Recap | Photos
Gm 3: NYL 77, IND 74
Box | Recap | Photos