ATLANTA — Sancho Lyttle was not going to let the Houston Comets give up a large lead for the second game in a row.
In place of injured Olympian Tina Thompson, Lyttle had 15 points and 18 rebounds to help the Comets hold off a late rally to beat the winless Atlanta Dream 72-65 on Thursday night.
"I just wanted to go in and grab every rebound tonight," Lyttle said. "If I can get it, I am going to get it. That is my main focus as my minutes continue to increase."
Houston (8-9) almost squandered another sizable lead two nights after watching a 14-point lead vanish in a 78-68 loss to Connecticut.
Michelle Snow had 18 points and eight rebounds for the Comets before fouling out with 1:20 left in the fourth quarter. She was also called for a technical foul after intentionally dropping the basketball on the face of Kasha Terry in the fourth.
Shannon Johnson had 12 points and seven assists for Houston, which played without Thompson (broken finger) for the fourth straight game.
But Lyttle has filled in nicely for Thompson in the previous three games, averaging 15.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.3 steals while shooting 70.0 percent from the field. The 6-foot-4 center said she is anxious for whenever Thompson returns from injury.
"I am learning more and more every day," Lyttle said, "and when she comes back, the coaches will have a great 1-2 punch."
Betty Lennox scored 15 points for the Dream (0-17), who became the first team without a win at the midpoint of a season.
Sequoia Holmes' layup capped an 8-0 run, giving Houston a 44-28 lead with 7:33 left in the third quarter.
Atlanta scored seven straight points, highlighted by reserves Kristin Haynie's 3-pointer and a layup by Katie Feenstra, to trim the margin to 51-45 with 45 seconds left in the period.
"I was proud of the way the bench stepped up and was happy to give them an opportunity because they have been working so hard," Dream coach Marynell Meadors said.
Latasha Byears scored on back-to-back layups and Lyttle added another layup, pushing the Comets' lead to 12 points with 4:02 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Dream rallied again, cutting the lead to 66-62 after Ivory Latta's steal and layup. Atlanta then hit three free throws to cut the lead to 68-65, but Johnson hit a short jumper and made two free throws to put the game away.
When Atlanta made a strong push, Comets coach Karleen Thompson said she wanted her team to learn how to overcome a comeback.
"I didn't want to call a timeout because I needed to trust my team as well as they needed to trust themselves," Thompson said. "They needed to see that they could stop a comeback, and they did."
Latta had 13 points and Feenstra added 11 for the Dream.
Houston jumped out to a 15-2 lead in the first quarter, holding the Dream without a field goal until Jennifer Lacy made a layup with 1:04 left in the period. Atlanta shot 1-for-17 from the field during the opening period, committing eight turnovers.