Clifford Ray Williams/ALOST

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

WASHINGTON — The first month of the WNBA season left no doubt that the Atlanta Dream can keep up with any other team in the league on the offensive end. The biggest issue was whether their defense could prevent opponents from scoring the basketball, and the Dream went a long way in tying up in shoring that weakness up on Wednesday night.

Allisha Gray led five players who scored in double figures for Atlanta with 19 points as the Dream defeated the Washington Mystics 73-67 inside Entertainment & Sports Arena. Tina Charles had 17 points and 15 rebounds for Atlanta while Rhyne Howard had 11 points, four rebounds, four assists and four steals.

Atlanta, who had allowed at least 78 points in six games this month, including the two preseason games, held the Mystics to just four field goals in the fourth quarter, where the Dream outscored Washington 19-13 to break a tie heading into the final stanza. Overall, the Mystics shot just 36.5 percent from the field (27-for-74) and make just six of their 27 three-point attempts.

The Dream also struggled offensively, being held under 70 points for the first time this season, but got timely baskets in the fourth to take control. Gray converted a steal into a fast-break layup to extend Atlanta’s lead to 63-58 midway through the fourth quarter, a stretch in which the Dream held Washington without a field goal for 4:02. Howard scored eight of her 11 points in the fourth quarter, including a short jumper with just over a minute remaining to give Atlanta a 69-62 lead. She then added two free throws on the next possession to push the lead to nine.

Washington is now 0-7, the second-worst start to a season in franchise history. (The 2007 team started the season losing its first eight games.) Ariel Atkins led all scorers with 21 points for the Mystics, and she added eight rebounds. Shakira Austin had 12 points and nine rebounds while Stefanie Dolson added 10 points. Despite its winless start, Washington has been competitive in the majority of the games, losing four of those seven contests by six points or less.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Wednesday evening’s game, with all photos taken by DC-area photographer Clifford Ray Williams. After clicking on a photo to enlarge the picture, press the left and right arrow buttons on either side of the caption to scroll through the rest of the pictures that appear on the first page, Also, click on the numbers and/or arrow appearing immediately below the picture grid to load the next set of photos. There are 20 pictures in total.

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Tags : Atlanta DreamWashington MysticsWNBAWomen's National Basketball Association

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