Perkins lifts Sky past Dream 99-98, OTJun 23, 2009 - 8:18 PM By JONATHAN LANDRUM Jr. Associated Press Writer
ATLANTA(AP) -- Jia Perkins' clutch shot late in the game put an end to Chicago Sky coach Steve Key's worries about their struggles on the road.
Perkins hit a jumper with 44.4 seconds left to lift the Sky to a 99-98 overtime win against the Atlanta Dream on Tuesday.
Perkins finished with 22 points for the Sky (4-3), who avoided opening the season with four straight road losses. Candice Dupree had 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Dominique Canty added 13 points.
"She is one of our All-Stars, even though she hasn't been voted in yet," said Key of Perkins, was averaging a team-high 17.2 points. "We gave up a big lead with our starters out. But Jia put us on her back tonight and got us the win."
Atlanta (3-4) took an 85-83 advantage - its first lead of the contest - on Jennifer Lacy's layup with 1:09 remaining. But two free throws by Perkins sent the game into overtime.
"We had nothing to lose," said Lacy, who finished with 11 points. "We had to get after it and get stops."
A jumper by Sancho Lyttle, who scored 18 points, gave the Dream a 96-95 lead. Perkins, who also had six assists and three steals, then hit the jumper that put her team ahead. She finished 9 of 18 from the field.
"She's really stepped up game this year," Dupree said. "It's something we're starting to get used to around here."
Led by rookie Angel McCoughtry, who finished with 26 points and eight assists, the Dream went on a 20-6 run to rally from an 18-point deficit in the fourth quarter. McCoughtry scored seven in the fourth.
"I was able to get free because our big players opened it up for me," said McCoughtry, who was Atlanta's top draft pick. "I was able to get it going. But at the end of the day, we lost."
Dream coach Marynell Meadors said it was McCoughtry's best game so far.
"She finally starting to get our system and understand how to play as a professional," the coach said.
Meadors opted to go with reserves Lacy and Tamera Young in the fourth, sitting star forward Chamique Holdsclaw for the entire period. The coach said Young and Lacy gave the Dream the defensive energy they needed in the previous quarters.
"They brought the energy we needed," Meadors said. "We want to play fast out there, but we just didn't have that type of energy beforehand. The effort we got in the last quarter and overtime is what we need for all quarters."
The Sky, who shot 66.7 percent from the field (10 of 15) in the third, was held to 25 percent (4 of 16) in the fourth.
Key said the Dream used a trap to distrupt the offensive flow, while the Sky had trouble keeping McCoughtry, Young and Lacy out of the lane for easy buckets.
"Our major challenge was middle penetration from the wing," Key said. "It's something we have to work on."
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