ATLANTA (AP) -- Lindsey Harding and Armintie Price made sure that the Atlanta Dream bounced back from a tough double-overtime loss in their previous game. Harding had 15 points and nine assists, Price scored nine of her 15 in the first quarter and the Dream led by 30 points while cruising to a 93-68 victory over the Washington Mystics on Sunday. Atlanta (16-14) shot 58 percent, had 29 assists on 40 baskets and scored scored 52 points in the paint. On Friday night, the Dream squandered a 25-point halftime lead against defending champion Minnesota before losing 97-93 in two overtimes. "We're at our best when we share the ball," Harding said. "We didn't play badly at Minnesota. We played well. We wanted to keep that same level of play and the same intensity." Price believes the Dream, who have reached the WNBA Finals in each of the last two years before getting swept in the title round, can take something positive from the tough loss. "We're trying to win a championship," Price said. "We know that we have to learn from every game and keep getting better. We want to get off to good start in every game and that's what we were able to do." Erika DeSouza had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds and 10 players scored for Atlanta. Cathrine Kraayeveld had 11 points, Tiffany Hayes added 10 with seven assists. Angel McCoughry, who came in averaging a league-leading 21.1 points per game and had 30 in the loss to the Lynx, scored eight against Washington. "That game on the road at Minnesota was a good proving factor for us," coach Fred Williams said. "We wanted to come out and play hard again." Crystal Langhorne and Noelle Quinn scored 12 points each for the league-worst Mystics (5-24), who lost their eighth straight. Monique Currie and Jasmine Thomas added 10 points each, and Ashley Robinson grabbed 13 rebounds. Washington committed 19 turnovers while shooting 37 percent. "I think it was some mental lapses, especially in the first half," Washington coach Trudi Lacey said. "Just not getting back on defense. We talk about it as part of our game plan and for whatever reason we didn't do it. Against a good playoff team like that you obviously can't make those kind of mistakes." The Dream shot 61 percent in the first half and led 44-20 in the second quarter before settling for a 46-27 halftime lead. Atlanta had 26 points in the paint and scored 14 on the fast break. Washington shot just 28 percent in the first half and committed 12 turnovers. Atlanta made nine of its first 11 shots and led 20-9 before Washington cut the margin to 22-15 at the end of the first quarter. But the Dream went on a 22-2 run in the second quarter to go up 44-20. Price made her first four shots and had nine of her 11 first-half points in the opening quarter. Harding had six assists in the first half. "We wanted to set the tone early," Williams said. "We saw a lot of combination passes, especially in the first half." The Mystics cut Atlanta's lead to 60-45, but the Dream ended the third quarter on an 8-0 run go up by 23 points going into the final quarter. The lead reached 30 points at 88-58. Atlanta beat Washington twice last month without McCoughtry, including an 82-59 home victory on Aug. 30. The teams meet for the final time at Washington on Friday.
The Big South conference had a surprising start to their league play this year with preseason favorites UNC-Asheville and Winthrop losing two of their first three games. Since, things have settled down in the Big South with those two squads separating themselves from the pack late in the season.
This 2017-18 season, the Big South is a single bid conference but does have opportunities to get a couple of teams into the NIT. Depending on how this tournament plays out, there may be two or three teams in the second biggest tournament in the country.
READ MORE: NCAA TOURNAMENT BUBBLE WATCH
Like always the tournament will be hosted at multiple sites. The first round will be on campus-sites with the No.7 and No. 8 teams hosting their respective games. From there, the remaining teams will head to Asheville, NC for two rounds as the Bulldogs earned the No. 1 seed. The highest remaining team will then host the championship game.
Home-court advantage will clearly be a factor for which ever team hosts, but it has also been a theme of the Big South. Combined, the entire conference is 88-38 at their home court. Only Liberty has a winning record on the road at 5-4. The host of the quarterfinals and semifinals, UNC-Asheville, is 13-1 at Kimmel Arena. The lone loss being against Liberty.
Only one year in this format, Winthrop won the championship in 2016-17 as the hosts.
When is the Big South Tournament?
The Big South Tournament will be Tues. Feb 27, March 1-2, and the Big South championship is on March 4.
Where is the Big South Tournament?
The Big South tournament will primarily be hosted at Kimmel Arena in Asheville, North Carolina. The higher seeds will host the first round match-ups. The Big South Championship will also be at the highest seed’s home court.
How to watch the Big South Tournament?
The Big South Tournament will be televised as a part of ESPN’s family of networks, excluding the first round. The first round can be seen on the Big South Network, the quarterfinals and semifinals will be streamed on ESPN3, and ESPN will televise the Big South Championship.
Who is the defending Big South Champion?
The Winthrop Eagles won the 2016-17 Big South Championship after hosting the main portion of the tournament. It was the Eagles 11th Big South Championship in their history, the most ever in the Big South.
2018 BIG SOUTH TOURNAMENT BRACKET:
First Round – Tuesday, Feb. 27
No. 9 Presbyterian at No. 8 Charleston Southern 7:00 pm (Big South Network/ Roku)
No. 10 Longwood at No. 7 High Point 7:00 pm (Big South Network/ Roku)
Quarterfinals - Thursday, March 1
7/10 Winner vs. No. 2 Radford 1:00pm, at Asheville, NC (ESPN3)
No. 6 Gardner-Webb vs. No. 3 Winthrop 3:00pm, at Asheville, NC (ESPN3)
8/9 Winner at No. 1 UNC Asheville 7:00pm, at Asheville, NC (ESPN3)
No. 5 Liberty vs. No. 4 Campbell 9:00pm, at Asheville, NC (ESPN3)
Semifinals - Friday, March 2
TBD vs. TBD 6:00pm, at Asheville, NC (ESPN3)
TBD vs. TBD 8:00pm, at Asheville, NC (ESPN3)
Big South Championship - Sunday, March 4
TBD vs. TBD 1:00pm, higher seed host (ESPN)
Even as the No. 3 seed and losers of their last two games, Winthrop is probably still the favorite heading into the tournament. Their offense is one of the highest scoring in all of college basketball (80.7 ppg), with Xavier Cooks scoring 17.6 ppg (3rd in Big South). However, the Eagles’ offense is not powered entirely behind three-point shooting, it is done with balance on both sides of the ball. They have the best two-point shooting percentage in the league (47.3 percent), lead the Big South in rebounding averages, blocks, and field goal defense. In addition, their guards’ three point shooting ability is pretty good too at 37.5 percent and making 9.5 deep balls a game.
However, when they go quiet from long range or another team matches their three-point shooting for a contest, they are susceptible. Also as defending champs, they have been here before and are motivated to get back to the NCAA Tournament.
As the Big South tournament hosts, UNC Asheville will have a leg up on the competition, but they have not been as dominant as a top seed should be. The Bulldogs are one of the most consistent teams in the conference with all five starters scoring in double figures each game. If one is betting, they are the safe bet to win it all based on what is mentioned above.
While Radford was a pleasant surprise throughout league play, do not anticipate that they will be a contender. They are eighth in scoring in the conference (68.2) and around the same mark when it comes to shooting. Their defense has bailed them out as probably one of the top defensive units in the league, but their leading scorer is a post player, Ed Polite Jr. (13.6 ppg) and if shut down in the paint, there is no offense.
Liberty is the darkhorse in the Big South Tournament. The do boast the best defensive numbers in the conference (64.0 points against per game) and have a high-powered offense, although it is spotty. Two players are shooting well above 40 percent or better from behind the arc. Dominating the boards, they limit other team’s second chance opportunities. Do not bet against the Flames in a one-on-one contest.
PICK: No. 3 Winthrop
Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, J.J. Redick and the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night.
Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:
WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS
Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
TV: NBC Sports Washington (coverage begins at 7 p.m.)
Live stream: NBCSportsWashington.com
Radio: 1500 AM
The Wizards continue their difficult stretch coming out of the All-Star break against a very dangerous Sixers team. Philly has proven to be very streaky this season, but right now they are rolling. They come to Washington having won their last seven games dating back to Feb. 6 when they beat the Wizards at the Wells Fargo Center. The Wizards are also playing well, having won eight of their last 11, despite their loss to the Hornets on Friday.
The Sixers are currently seventh in the East and appear on track to make the playoffs. If they keep rising the standings, they could meet the Wizards, who are currently fourth, in the first round.
Speaking of the playoffs, this game could end up looming large for postseason seeding. The Sixers have won two of the three matchups between these teams this year. If they win on Sunday, they will take the season series and own the tiebreaker over Washington.
If the two teams tie head-to-head and end up with the same record at the end of the season, it will then come down to conference record. The Sixers currently have a better record against East teams than the Wizards. But if they can beat Philly this time, the Wizards will have a chance to secure the conference tiebreaker down the stretch of this season.
Sixers are tough to guard
The Wizards have found out the hard way this season just how difficult it can be to match up with the Sixers, who are led by two emerging stars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Embiid is 7-foot-1 with rare abilities to stretch the floor and beat opponents off the dribble. Simmons is 6-foot-10, yet can lead the fastbreak with rare speed and vision to find his teammates with crisp passes.
The mobility for their size is almost unmatched and it has not been easy for the Wizards to answer. In their last meeting earlier this month, Simmons had 15 points, eight assists, six rebounds and three steals. Embiid had 27 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks. The Wizards have to try to limit those guys while also dealing with other challenges like Robert Covington, Dario Saric and J.J. Reddick.
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