Atlanta Dream head coach Michael Cooper wants to get his team back to the WNBA Finals and a trophy for his franchise. Erika de Souza and rookie Shoni Schimmel took the first step with their season opening win against the San Antonio Stars on Friday.
De Souza had 23 points and 11 rebounds, and Schimmel scored all seven of her points in the fourth quarter as the Dream took the 79-75 victory over the Stars in front of 4,575 fans inside Phillips Arena on Friday.
Angel McCoughtry added 21 points for Atlanta, in the team’s first game under Cooper. The Dream would rally from a four-point deficit in the final 3:09 of the game.
”This is the year that we can go farther,” de Souza said. ”Cooper is always asking everybody to play inside; this helps me a lot. This is going to be the year for us.”
Atlanta outscored San Antonio 48-36 in the paint and led 38-36 at halftime. The Dream extended their lead to 52-43 on McCoughtry’s free throws with 4:21 to go in the third quarter.
The Stars were led by Danielle Robinson who finished with 23 points and Danielle Adams chipped in 18 points. Rookie Kayla McBride struggled in her first WNBA, posting just six points on 1-of-6 shooting. Sophia Young-Malcolm returned to action after missing all of the 2013 season with a knee injury. The All-Star forward ended the night with eight points.
San Antonio was without Becky Hammon, who suffered a left ankle injury during training camp.
Both teams committed 16 turnovers and the Dream led in fast break points 20-9.
The Stars are now 0-1 on the season and will return to the court tomorrow (Saturday) night when they welcome Skylar Diggins and the Tulsa Shock to the AT&T Center at 7 p.m. for their home opener.