Atlanta, GA — The second-to-last home game during the regular season for the Dream started off rocky, to say the least.
Looking at the starting lineup, two familiar names not on the list: seven-year veteran Angel McCoughtry. Serving a suspension by the WNBA for technical fouls, McCoughtry was unavailable for the game. Veteran Sancho Lyttle, who has over a decade of WNBA play under her belt, has been battling a foot injury since July and also didn’t suit up.
The lineup for Tuesday night’s game included Layshia Clarendon, who is in her fourth season, Tiffany Hayes, in her fifth season, Elizabeth Williams, in her second season, and two newcomers to the WNBA and the Atlanta Dream: Rachel Hollivay and Bria Holmes.
Two rookies starting could be a concern, but this was rookie Holmes’ seventh start in the last nine games. During the game, she proved why she had been chosen.
According to Atlanta head coach Michael Cooper, Holmes “has been great for the last 5 or 6 games, so this was another chance for her to get going.”
Poor scoring in the first quarter, combined with almost consistent rebounding by San Antonio’s Jayne Appel-Marinelli, led the Dream struggling to score, as it resulted in a 15-3 deficit.
While the technical foul by the Stars’ Haley Peters on Tiffany Hayes was the first story of the second quarter, the valiant rebounding efforts by Hayes and Holmes rebounding led to more offensive opportunities.
And who scored twice consecutively to decrease the Stars’ lead to six right before halftime? Rookie Bria Holmes.
She started off the third with a bang, too.
The comeback continued, and with 5:20 to go in the third, Atlanta held its first lead of the game.
Holmes led all Dream scorers at the end of the third, and Elizabeth Williams reached double digits in rebounds – matching Stars’ Appel-Marinelli’s 11. The Dream were only up a point with a score of 48-47, and everyone was anticipating an exciting final quarter.
And both teams delivered. There was a lot of back and forth, with several lead changes in the fourth, but Stars’ recent Olympic medalist Astou Ndour nailed her third three-pointer of the game in the last 35 seconds.
And while the Stars won their seventh game of the season, tonight, it was all about Holmes. From the start to the very last second, the Dream pulled together a much better performance than expected.
And a lot of it was due to Holmes, leading all Atlanta scorers with 20 points.
“It [being a starter] actually means a lot to me. Going out every night and just giving it my all and doing what I have to do to help my teammates out and tonight was one of those nights that we were down a couple of our stars and I had to step up and show that I can play on this squad,” Holmes said after the game.
What are her hopes through the last regular season game and the start of the playoffs? “To be consistent and keep my confidence up.”
With Holmes’ performance tonight and recent play recently, Atlanta’s confidence has to be up, too.