Hayes, Dream hold off Sun for 81-74 win in opener

May 14, 2017
FILE - In this July 10, 2016, file photo, Atlanta Dream's Angel McCoughtry pauses during the WNBA basketball team's game against the Connecticut Sun in Uncasville, Conn. The Dream will be missing All-Star McCoughtry as she's decided to sit out this season to rest her body. The Dream will need Tiffany Hayes, Elizabeth Williams and Layshia Clarendon to pick up the slack on offense. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill, File)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — Tiffany Hayes hit 11 of 12 free throws and finished with 19 points, including a late 3-pointer, and the Atlanta Dream held off the Connecticut Sun 81-74 on Saturday night in the season opener for both teams.

Bria Holmes added 15 points, Layshia Clarendon had 14, and Damiris Dantas 13 for Atlanta.

The Dream, ranked eighth in the AP WNBA power poll, are without four-time WNBA All-Star Angel McCoughtry, who announced in January that she has, “decided to take some time off”, during the 2017 WNBA season. McCoughtry, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 WNBA draft, has played year-round (in Europe and the WNBA) for eight straight years.

Jasmine Thomas and Morgan Tuck hit back-to-back 3-pointers to cap an 8-0 run that gave 11th-ranked Connecticut a two-point lead with 7:51 to play. Brittany Sykes answered with a layup before Holmes hit two jumpers to make it 70-66 with six minutes left and the Dream never again trailed.

A layup by Thomas cut the Sun’s deficit to 77-74 with 46 seconds remaining, but Hayes hit a 3 from the right wing 22 seconds later to seal it.

Tuck had a career-high 21 points and Courtney Williams scored 18 for Connecticut. Jonquel Jones grabbed a career-best 20 boards, the most by a Sun player since Tina Charles had 22 on June 17, 2012.

The Dream, who have won six in a row against Connecticut, set a WNBA record with 21 made free throws in the first half. They finished 25 of 27.

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