In three recent matchups with the Atlanta Dream, the Washington Mystics had been fortunate to mostly avoid the league’s leading scorer, Angel McCoughtry. The 6-foot-1 guard missed one game for personal reasons and another because of team suspension before logging a season-low 17 minutes in the one she was active.
McCoughtry flashed her more familiar form in Friday’s game at Verizon Center, sparking the Dream to an 82-74 victory before an announced crowd of 7,368. The former Louisville standout had 12 of her game-high 26 points in the final quarter and added eight assists as the Dream beat the Mystics for the fourth time in three weeks.
Washington led for much of the game but as Atlanta surged, the home team couldn’t muster enough offense to avoid a 10th consecutive loss.
“She’s an Olympian,” Mystics Coach Trudi Lacey said of McCoughtry. “When the game’s on the line, obviously, that’s who they’re going to go to. I thought she hit some tough shots.”
Washington (5-26) built a double-digit lead in the first six minutes of the game and maintained a slim advantage well into the second half even when its top two scorers were out of the game. Forward Crystal Langhorne has been battling a left knee injury and did not play in the second half, and guard Monique Currie (team-high 20 points) got into foul trouble after halftime.
Atlanta (18-14) took its first lead of the second half at 60-58 on Erika DeSouza’s layup with 7 minutes 29 seconds left in the game. Washington guard Jasmine Thomas (13 points) tied it at 65 with a three-pointer three minutes later, but McCoughtry — who battled Currie on both ends of the floor for much of the night — took over the game’s final minutes.
The Dream’s lead was three points when McCoughtry nailed a three-pointer over Currie with 2:18 left. Washington failed to convert on its next three offensive trips and never got any closer. McCoughtry — who hit 4 of 5 fourth-quarter shots — punctuated the victory with a late steal and breakaway lay-in.
“I take playing against great players like Angel as a challenge,” said Currie, who was ejected with 19 seconds left after picking up her second technical foul. “She’s one of the best players in the world and she leads the league in scoring, but she’s not about to just come in here and walk over me. I’m a competitor.”
The Mystics emerged from the game with plenty of positives after holding together with a patchwork lineup and winning the rebounding battle, 38-26. But the Dream, which has come up short in the WNBA finals the past two seasons, left the court with a win thanks to McCoughtry’s timely scoring.
“This league is not for the faint-hearted,” Currie said. “You have to battle, you have to fight and you have to win. This season has been disappointing, but we’re going to finish, and I think we’ve shown that.”