MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 29: Chantelle Handy of Great Britan has a shot blocked by Alison Bales of Atlanta Dream during the WNBA Live basketball match between Atlanta Dream and Great Britain Woman's Team at the Manchester Evening News Arena on May 29, 2011 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

Dream Vs. Liberty: Atlanta Captures First Victory Of The Season 79-58 Over New York

The Atlanta Dream came into the season with heightened expectations. After a three game losing streak to start the season, they look to break out of their season long funk tonight against New York.

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Dream Vs. Liberty Final Score: Atlanta Gets Defensive, Wins 79-58

Atlanta turned in its best defensive effort to date while capturing their first victory of the season, 79-58 over the New York Liberty. Angel McCoughtry led a balanced attack for the Dream with 18 points on 6 of 11 shooting. Erika De Souza added 12 and Sancho Lyttle added 10. 

Offensively, this was Atlanta's best performance in terms of ball movement. The Dream recorded 22 assists on the night more than doubling the output of the Liberty. Shalee Lehning came off the bench to lead Atlanta with six assists. 

Despite their offensive improvements, Atlanta controlled the game with their defense holding the Liberty to just 36 percent shooting. Essence Carson led the Liberty with 21 points while Kia Vaughn added 16. Cappie Pondexter and Planette Pierson combined to score just 10 points. 

Atlanta breaks through with their first win of the season after dropping their first three contests. They looked a lot more like the team that was expected during the off season. Defense is the key to to Atlanta's  success as it fuels their running game where they are ultimately at their best. 


Dream Vs. Liberty: Angel McCoughtry's 16 Points Leads Atlanta To 44-32 Halftime Lead

Angel McCoughtry is taking it upon herself to make sure that the Atlanta Dream's three game losing streak to start the season comes to an end. McCoughtry has 16 points on 5-9 shooting. She has also made her presence felt on the defensive end where she has a steal and a block in the first half. Erika De Souza has 10 points and five rebounds for Atlanta. 

Atlanta's defense through the first two periods has improved as they helped limit the Liberty to 41 percent shooting in the first half. Essence Carson has 17 points and six rebounds for New York but no one else has been able to make an impact. Cappie Pondexter has just four points on two of seven shooting and only one assist in the first half. 

Lindsey Harding's struggles continue as the former All-Star guard is still struggling to fit into the Atlanta offense. Harding is scoreless in the first half going 0-2 from the field and has only one assist. She played nine minutes in the first half before giving way to Shalee Lehning for the remainder of the half. Lehning sparked the Dream with some pinpoint passing and has five assists and two rebounds. 

Building leads hasn't been the problem for the Dream as they have led in each of their first three games. Maintaining them has been the test and Atlanta must continue their intensity on the defensive end of the floor if they want to come away with a victory tonight. 


Dream Vs. Liberty: Atlanta Looks To Break Into The Win Column Tonight Against New York

Saying that an 0-3 start for the Atlanta Dream is a bit surprising is an understatement. After all expectations were through the roof after last seasons trip to the WNBA Finals and the off season acquisition of All-Star guard Lindsey Harding. On paper, Atlanta looks like one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. On the floor however, they have not played anywhere close to those early season expectations. 

Despite struggling offensively for stretches throughout the first three games, it is their defense that is most glaring. Entering tonight's game against New York, Atlanta is surrendering a league-high 92.7 points per game. Simply put, the defense must improve to give their offense a jump start with the running game. It is hard to run effectively if you are constantly taking the ball out of bounds. 

New York comes into tonight's game at 2-1 having lost its first game of the season Saturday 86-80 to Indiana. The Dream lost to the Liberty 94-88 in overtime in their season opener at Philips Arena. McCoughtry sat out that game with a knee injury. 

The Liberty are led by Plenette Pierson (18.7 pts) and Cappie Pondexter (15.3 pts, 6.0 ast). Iziane Castro Marques and Sancho Lyttle lead the Dream in scoring at 13.3 points per game. 

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