Arlington, Texas – A 1-2 punch by Skylar Diggins-Smith and rookie Allisha Gray sent the Dallas Wings past the Atlanta Dream Wednesday, 94-84.
Diggins-Smith had 21 points and seven assists, and Gray scored a career-high 20 points, including a critical four-point play down the stretch, to seal the win.
Dallas was up by as many as 23 points until the third quarter, when the Dream clawed their way back into the game and cut the lead to ten going into the final period after Wings coach Fred Williams has put in his reserves. A three-pointer by Atlanta rookie Brittney Sykes cut her team’s deficit to 86-82 with 1:28 remaining, but Gray’s four points inflated the lead back, and the Wings hung on to win.
Diggins-Smith said she was trying to have an aggressive mindset, which opens up the floor for her teammates.
“I think that was the difference,” she said. “We played a little tight on Saturday, so I thought it was good for us to come out and get a victory tonight against a very good team in Atlanta.”
Williams said he might have put in his reserves too soon.
“Atlanta is a tough team, they always want to run at you,” Williams said. “I could have kept starters out there; I felt we had a big enough lead to bring a few players in but coach learned his lesson.”
Williams had missed the past two games due to an illness. He did not comment on what was wrong but said he was thankful to be back.
“I’m good. I’m alive, I’m healthy, and I just have to take it one day at a time and I thank God. We’re always blessed to see another day,” he said.
Gray, who earlier had been named the league’s rookie of the month for the second time in a row, said it was the Dream’s zone defense that allowed for her game to open up more.
“My teammates did a good job of finding me weak side, I give all the credit to them for this 20-point game,” Gray said.
A bright spot for the Wings was the return of center Courtney Paris, who has been out for since May 25 with a knee injury. The home crowd gave her a huge round of applause, after which she scored four points and grabbed five boards in her five and half minutes of play. Injured guard Aerial Powers also suited up, but was inactive for the game.
Glory Johnson had 14 points and seven rebounds and Teresa Plaisance added 11 points for Dallas.
The Dream were led by Tiffany Hayes with 16 points, while Skyes had 15 and Elizabeth Williams and Damiris Dantas added 10 a piece. Skyes said the game was hard-fought, and she gave credit to Dallas for a strong showing.
“We weren’t pushing the ball ahead and getting those easy layups, getting those easy kick-outs,” Skyes said. “We’ve just got to keep doing it, we’ve got to stay consistent. That’s our big thing, and once we do that, we’re going to be fine. We’re going to pull these games out.”
The Wings and the Dream will face each other again Sunday afternoon.