WNBA: Ariel Atkins makes key plays as Mystics edge Dream

Ariel Atkins scored 18 points and Natasha Cloud added 16 to help the Washington Mystics record a 78-73 victory over the Atlanta Dream on Friday night at College Park, Ga.

Tianna Hawkins tallied 11 points and Shakira Austin added 10 points for the Mystics (5-1), who overcame a 10-point, third-quarter deficit.

Rhyne Howard scored 19 of her 21 in the first half for the Dream (4-2). Cheyenne Parker tallied 13 points, Nia Coffey contributed 12 points and 10 rebounds and Erica Wheeler had 11 points.

Washington played without two-time WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne (back).

Atkins made a short baseline jumper with one minute left to give the Mystics a 72-71 edge. Wheeler responded with a driving hoop to give Atlanta a one-point lead with 45.6 seconds to go.

Hawkins made two free throws to give Washington a 74-73 lead with 41.5 seconds remaining. Howard missed a jumper with 29.4 seconds left and Cloud made two free throws to make it a three-point game with 21.9 seconds left.

Atkins stole Atlanta’s ensuing in-bounds pass, was fouled and made two free throws with 19 seconds to make it a five-point lead as the Mystics closed it out.

Howard, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2022 draft, made 7 of 16 field-goal attempts. But she struggled against double teams in the second half and had just two points on 1-of-10 shooting.

The Dream shot 40.9 percent from the field and made 8 of 24 from 3-point range. Washington connected on 45.5 percent of its shots, including just 3 of 18 from behind the arc.

Howard’s steal and layup started a 10-0 burst in the third quarter as the Dream took a 56-46 lead with 5:47 left. Wheeler scored the final five points of the run.

Washington answered with an 8-2 run to trail 58-54 entering the final stanza.

The Mystics remained hot as Shatori Walker-Kimbrough scored the first six points of the fourth quarter for a 60-58 edge.

The score was tied at 44 at halftime after Cloud hit a 3-pointer as time expired.

Howard was 6-of-6 shooting — including four 3-pointers — in the first half. She scored 15 of her points in the first quarter.

–Field Level Media

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