A lopsided victory might have helped the Atlanta Dream heal from a tumultuous week, but they could have a challenge as they attempt to keep that positivity going.
The Dream will seek their first win this season over the Eastern Conference-leading Connecticut Sun when they continue their lengthy homestand Sunday.
Atlanta swept Connecticut in the opening round of last year’s playoffs en route to a second straight WNBA finals appearance, but the Dream (13-13) don’t appear poised to advance out of the East again in 2012.
The team promoted former assistant Fred Williams to replace Marynell Meadors as coach and general manager Monday. One of Williams’ first actions was to suspend leading scorer and U.S. Olympian Angel McCoughtry indefinitely for violating an undisclosed team rule.
During a face-to-face meeting Wednesday, Williams gave McCoughtry a list of requirements that she must adhere to before he would think about reinstatement. The next day, still without their star, the Dream blew out last-place Washington 82-59.
“I’m happy about the game,” Williams said. “I really haven’t thought too much about (McCoughtry’s status).”
Erika de Souza led Atlanta with 21 points and 10 rebounds against the Mystics.
“We got Fred’s first win and we’re happy,” said forward Sancho Lyttle, who contributed 11 points and nine boards. “We’re going to take this one game at a time. We don’t know what is going to happen.”
What’s happened during Atlanta’s two matchups with Connecticut (19-6) this season are a pair of losses, and star Sun center Tina Charles has played a major role in both. During her team’s 75-73 win at Philips Arena on June 17, Charles had a season-high 22 rebounds along with 23 points, including a pair of free throws with 3.1 seconds left.
She had 22 points and 11 boards during a 92-73 home victory June 10, and recorded another double-double in an 84-73 win at San Antonio on Thursday.
The victory was the Sun’s ninth in 11 games and it boosted their league-best road record to 10-2. Even with that sterling mark away from home, Connecticut is getting pressed by Indiana for the East lead and could use another win in Atlanta.
“More than anything right now, it is just important for us to stay ahead of Indiana,” coach Mike Thibault said. “We are trying to get the best record in the Eastern Conference.”
The Dream, still comfortably in playoff position in the East, will wrap up their season-high five-game homestand Wednesday against the Fever before finishing the regular season by playing four of six on the road, including a visit to Connecticut in the finale Sept. 23.