The Dallas Wings held on to defeat the New York Liberty, 84-81, in the final home game of their inaugural season Sunday.
New York center Tina Charles led all scorers with 29 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks, but it was not enough to seal the win as the Liberty got down big early. Dallas was led by Karima Christmas, who played a big game on her birthday with 23 points and five rebounds. Christmas said the win was for the fans on fan appreciation day.
“We wanted to come out here and play hard for them,” she said. “Being able to get this win builds morale and showed out toughness down the stretch.”
The Wings played their best half of basketball this year, as they scored a season-high 32 in the first quarter. They scored on nine of their first 11 shot attempts, and their quick start helped them end the half up 55-35.
Dallas moved the ball and ran through their offensive sets, as opposed to the one-on-one play seen throughout their recent 11-game losing streak. However, New York would not go down easy as they went on a 12-3 run to start the third quarter. Charles said the way they came out in the second half is the way they needed to start the game.
“There was more sense of urgency; we had them on their heels, versus when they threw the first punch,” Charles said. “That is the culture that we need to create and that we need to sustain throughout the game.”
In the second half the Wings were being beat on the offensive glass, giving the Liberty second and third chances to score. The visitors stepped it up on defense, forcing Dallas to revert to one-one play as they were no longer getting the looks they wanted.
Sugar Rodgers was 2-10 from three for New York, but the most crucial shot she made was the one with 5.6 second left on the clock, which put the Liberty within one-point, 81-82. Wings guard Skylar Diggins hit two free throws after being fouled out of the timeout. New York had one final attempt to tie, but Rodgers could not connect.
Diggins had 22 on the day, but none more important than the driving layup she made with 14.9 left and the two free throws to seal the win. Aerial Powers had 15 points and Courtney Paris added 13.
Dallas has now won two in a row, but they have been eliminated from playoff contention with a win Sunday by the Phoenix Mercury. It was a tough season due to injury, but Wings coach Fred Williams said what he will remember most about this season is the fans.
“The fans here have been tremendous for us. I see fans here from Tulsa that have come down to cheer for us too,” Williams said. “We feel that energy, its great to have a house full of fans and good energy for each game.”
There are two games left on the schedule, as Dallas faces the Connecticut Sun Friday night and then plays at Indiana Sunday.