McCoughtry scores 35, Dream beat Sun 85-74

Angel McCoughtry scored 35 points and the Atlanta Dream moved into third place in the Eastern Conference with an 85-74 victory over the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday night.

"She was superb," Atlanta coach Marynell Meadors said. "When the stakes are high, she's at her best. She's played well against Connecticut. She's shot the ball very well every time we've played them. She's just really a great player."

The loss dropped the Sun (20-13) a game behind first-place Indiana in the Eastern Conference. The Dream (19-14) is one game behind the Sun and half a game ahead of fourth-place New York.

Tina Charles had 17 points and 12 rebounds for Connecticut for her 22nd double-double of the season, matching the WNBA record she set last year. Renee Montgomery scored 16 for the Sun, which fell to 6-11 on the road.

"Angel McCoughtry just broke our whole team down," Charles said. "She's a great player and she made some tough shots. But some of her shots, like the layups, we should have been able to hold her off."

Connecticut cut a 13-point lead to three with just over four minutes left, but McCoughtry had eight points in an 12-2 run as the Dream quickly regained control. Sancho Lyttle had 12 points and 12 rebounds for Atlanta.

"I felt good," McCoughtry said. "I felt more relaxed than I have in a long time. You always want to be at your best against the best teams and Connecticut is a challenge. We'll likely meet them again in the playoffs and I'm looking forward to it."

McCoughtry came into the game averaging 28 points per game against Connecticut and had 36 points — one off her career high — in the teams' first meeting his season

The Sun finishes the regular season at home on Sunday against New York while Atlanta plays at Chicago.

The Dream used a nine-point run early in the third quarter to go up 57-45 and led by 14 points before settling for a 66-55 lead going into the final quarter.

McCoughtry, who opened the scoring with a 3-pointer, had 15 points at halftime as the Dream took a 48-42 lead. Charles had 11 points and six rebounds for the Sun in the first half.

"We just weren't very good," Sun coach Mike Thibault said. "Our defense was bad in the first half and our offense was bad in the second half. It was not a top-flight performance."