Arlington, TX. – Liz Cambage’s 28 points and career-high 18 rebounds paced the Dallas Wings past the Las Vegas Aces Friday, 77-67.
Cambage and point guard Skylar Diggins-Smith, who finished with 20 points and six assists, have been the rocks of the roster as their team was hit by several early-season injuries. Coach Fred Williams said the way Cambage played against Las Vegas is what they expect from their 6-8 center.
“She is capable of being a double-double player,” he said. “Each game, she gets into the rhythm of scoring with her offensive moves and shooting touch. That’s the reason why we signed her: scoring and rebounding. She demonstrated that tonight.”
The Wings out-rebounded the Aces, 43-27, which afforded them more opportunities to put runs together to maintain their lead. The visitors lead 16-13 in the first quarter, but Dallas took control via Cambage and Diggins-Smith, who initiated a 12-5 run to close the first quarter. The hosts led by 13 in the second quarter, but that lead was cut to six at halftime.
The Wings have seen three games so far this year where they have had a lead at the half, only to let it dwindle in the third and fourth periods, to turn into a loss. Diggins-Smith said the team has worked on elevating their play in the third quarter.
“We went in with a lead after most first halves, so we know teams are going to come out tough,” Diggins-Smith said. “The first four minutes of the third quarter is the battle. We are still trying to learn different match ups.”
Dallas got its first look at recently-signed guard Leticia Romero in action, which allowed Diggins-Smith to play off the ball while Romero took over at point. Romero said she was nervous, but excited to play.
“This team really has great energy, and I could feel it as soon as I stepped on the floor,” she said. “(Teammates) make it real easy for you to adapt.”
The Wings had a scoring lull in the last period, as they went almost four minutes without a field goal. This allowed Las Vegas to come within two points with 3:44 remaining. Dallas responded by clamping down on defense to hold their opponents to just two points the rest of the way and seal the win.
Aces head coach Bill Laimbeer said his team’s road trip, which ended with the loss, meant they were mentally fatigued entering the game.
“We played quality teams, got a couple of wins, but we’ve got to learn the mental part of the game,” Laimbeer said. “Every possession counts.”
Kayla McBride led the Las Vegas effort with 22 points, while A’ja Wilson added 14.
Despite putting up a good fight, they did not have an answer for Cambage, as the winners scored 48 points in the paint. McBride said she and her team couldn’t stop Cambage’s rhythm once she got going.
“I think you just want to make her shoot from the outside,” McBride said. “She didn’t take any outside shots, and that’s what made her so effective.”
Diggins-Smith said the plan is always to go through Cambage.
“When you have the best big in the world you feed her, and that is what we tried to do tonight,” Diggins-Smith said.
The Wings, now 5-4, look to build on their momentum as they head north to face the defending champion Minnesota Lynx June 19. The Aces return home to host the Phoenix Mercury Sunday.