Published August 25, 2010
| Associated Press
WASHINGTON – Angel McCoughtry scored 28 points and Coco Miller scored 21 in her first start of the season to help the Atlanta Dream upset the top-seeded Washington Mystics 95-90 in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal Wednesday night.
The Mystics, who entered the playoffs on a six-game winning streak, are one loss from elimination in the best-of-three series. Washington won both games in Atlanta during the regular season, including Sunday to end the regular season.
Atlanta started the 5-foot-9 Miller to combat the Mystics' perimeter strength and shake up a lineup that had lost six of the last seven games. The Dream scored 48 points in the first half, the highest total Washington allowed all year.
"The starting lineup was not working," said Dream coach Marynell Meadors, who also started guard Armintie Price. "These were defensive players that were in there. We had a lot of speed and quickness on the wings. ... I thought everybody played their roles and did a great job tonight."
Miller, who spent the first eight seasons of her career with the Mystics, had averaged around seven minutes this season as a reserve. She might have still been passed over, except her twin sister and teammate, Kelly Miller, had an injured ankle.
"First part of the season she didn't get a lot of minutes," Meadors said of Coco. "But she hung in there, continued to work hard and now she's reaping the benefits of being able to step up."
Marissa Coleman scored a career-high 18 points for the Mystics, who have lost seven straight playoff games. Matee Ajavon and Crystal Langhorne each scored 16 points for the Mystics, who shot 39.4 percent.
"We were so much looking at the mismatches on our big that we were trying to force it so much there instead of just passing to what's open," said Lindsey Harding, who shot 5 for 21 and finished with 14 points.
Iziane Castro Marques scored 19 points for the Dream, who outscored the Mystics 31-14 in the second quarter and had their largest lead at 58-41 midway through the third quarter.
The Mystics used a 10-0 run bridging the third and fourth quarter to cut the lead to five at 63-58. They got even closer with 4:34 left when Matee Ajavon hit her three free throws after getting fouled shooting from beyond the arc to make it 77-75, but Sancho Lyttle's layup started a 7-0 run that put the Dream up 84-75 with 3:01 left.
Ajavon's successful 3-pointer had Washington within four with 27.8 seconds left.
Washington finished the regular season as the stingiest defense in the league, holding opponents to 73.3 points per game. The Dream shot 21 of 36 in the first half and 53.5 percent overall.
"I was very disappointed with our defensive effort," Mystics coach Julie Plank said. "You can't give up 95 points. I don't care if it's regular season, definitely not the playoffs. ... They pretty much got whatever they wanted."