Williams scores 31, lifts Dream to 90-87 OT win over Liberty

NEW YORK (AP) — Courtney Williams has always loved taking the big shot.

With the game tied in overtime and under 10 seconds left, Williams told coach Mike Petersen in a timeout just to give her the ball and she’ll win the game.

Williams did just that, hitting a tie-breaking 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds left to lift the Atlanta Dream to a 90-87 overtime win over the New York Liberty on Saturday.

“This is what I live for. I live for big shots,” said Williams, who finished with 31 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. “Confidence is never lacking, I wanted the big shots.”

Petersen, who took over just before the season started when Nicki Collen left for Baylor, said in the final timeout that he was all set to “go all coachie on them, draw up the Mona-stinking-Lisa of plays.”

“Courtney Williams looked at me and said, ‘Give me the ball.’ She’s playing so good tonight, if I don’t give her the ball there I’m the dumbest man in history.”

With the game tied at 87, Williams took the inbounds with 9.8 seconds left, dribbled to the wing, and hit the tie-breaking shot.

New York (5-2) had one last chance, but Sabrina Ionescu’s fling off the inbounds was off-target.

Both teams struggled in overtime. New York made its only basket on Michaela Onyenwere’s 3-pointer with 1:17 left. Courtney Williams tied the game at 87 with 34 seconds to go. Onyenwere then missed a 3 from the wing with the shot clock winding down to set up Williams’ winner.

Onyenwere finished with a career-best 29 points for the Liberty. Betnijah Laney added 20 points and 11 assists. She’s scored 20 or more points in every game this season.

“This is a long season, there will be games like this,” said New York guard Sami Whitcomb. “There’s an ebb and flow to every season. We have to stay even keel. We have to be focusing on the next game.”

Atlanta squandered a six-point lead in the final 3:21 of regulation as New York scored eight straight points to go up 82-80 on Sami Whitcomb’s free throw. Elizabeth Williams then converted a layup with 10.6 seconds left to tie it at 82. She also had a block at the other end when former teammate Laney drove the lane.

Courtney Williams had a chance to win the game at the end of the fourth quarter, but her floater from above the foul line was off the mark.

Atlanta came out sizzling, making 13 of its first 18 shots, all from inside the 3-point line. The Dream led 28-17 after one quarter and extended that lead to 13 in the second quarter before Onyenwere got hot from the outside and rallied the Liberty to a 43-43 tie. She finished the half with a career-high 21 points, but Atlanta led 49-45 at the break.

The Dream lost guard Chennedy Carter late in the third quarter when she went down hard while driving to the basket and injured her right arm. She didn’t return.

“She wasn’t going to go back in. I don’t even have a guess on it,” Petersen said. “She’s in there smiling and laughing right now, so that’s a good sign.”

MISSING IN ACTION: New York was missing star forward Natasha Howard, who is sidelined at least four weeks with a sprained knee ligament. Howard missed the first couple games of the season because of her overseas commitment.

“It’s frustrating, she was not even in rhythm and putting up great stats and helping the team in so many ways,” Liberty coach Walt Hopkins said. “We know what it looks like, know what’s necessary, know areas where other players need to pick up the slack. I do think they are mentally prepared.”

PRIME TIME: Saturday’s game was the first of 16 games to be shown on Amazon Prime Video. The streaming service will also show the inaugural Commissioner’s Cup championship game on Aug. 12.

UP NEXT

Dream: Atlanta heads to Minnesota for two games against the Lynx starting next Friday.

Liberty: Hosts Las Vegas on Thursday

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