Atlanta, GA -- Nothing like a WNBA game on ESPN2 - the lights, the cameras and an added bonus, it was "Hoops for Troops" night at Phillips Arena.
But, coach Michael Cooper of the Dream was not exactly impressed, his first thoughts immediately after the game -
"For an ESPN game, it wasn't our best showing."
One reason for that was Shock forward Plenette Pierson. Even when Atlanta made a run late, she just would not let her team wilt.
"That's our forte this year: to be aggressive and play hard for all 40 minutes until the buzzer sounds," said Pierson. "The Dream made a run and we just knew we had to stay to them and just weather the storm."
The Tulsa Shock who were coming off a three-game losing streak seemed very anxious. In the first quarter, both teams were sizing each other up, and the Dream were determined not to get shocked too fast. Erika De Souza was killing the boards and the first quarter ended with the Dream trailing by eight points.
The second quarter started with the Dream dominating in the paint with 32 points, and Angel McCoughtry was not only doing her thing at the basket -- and bringing the defense -- but she was also acting as a part-time cheerleader.
She took it upon herself to get the crowd up on their feet and scream for the Dream. Unfortunately, by the last three minutes of the quarter, the Dream were going to need more than cheerleaders and the crowd to get them out of the slump they created.
They started playing sloppy ball - missing easy shots, not passing, and the catch-and shoot-style they were displaying, will not win you games. At the half - the Dream trailed by seven points.
During the second half, the Dream did not have an answer for Pierson, who ended the game with 24 points or Riquna Williams, who went to the free throw line 18 times.
"I think we just played great today," said Pierson "We played team ball. They got me shots in the right spots, and I was able to make them, and we just played team and resilient basketball today."
With seven minutes left in the third quarter, Sancho Lyttle had two big rebounds that brought the Dream down by one point. The Dream showed some resiliency, but the Shock would not be denied, as the third quarter ended with the Shock leading 65-55.
You would think with the Shock's star guard, Skylar Diggins, not playing, this was going to be a different game. Diggins, who is out for the remainder of the 2015 season, suffered a torn ACL during a home victory against Seattle. Coincidentally, Diggins had ACL reconstructive surgery earlier this morning and is expected to return for the 2016 season.
However, Diggins being out was not a factor, as four of the Shock's starters were in the double digits.
The Shock scored the last six points of the game and beat the Dream 85-75.
Coach Cooper said it best about Pierson -
"Plenette is a veteran, and she's going to bring the fight to you."