Wings lose to Fever 76-72, fall to 0-5

Allisha Gray tries to escape the defense of Kelsey Mitchell and Candice Dupree. Jim Cowsert/NBAE via Getty Images.
Allisha Gray tries to escape the defense of Kelsey Mitchell and Candice Dupree. Jim Cowsert/NBAE via Getty Images.

Arlington, Texas – The losing woes continue for the Dallas Wings, as they dropped a close one to the Indiana Fever Thursday, 76-72. The Wings are now 0-5.

Candice Dupree led the visitors with 20 points, including 16 in the second half, to secure the win. Fever coach Pokey Chatman said having Dupree on the court helped the team withstand runs from Wings.

“She has a calming effect when the ball touches her,” Chatman said. “Things slow down and her confidence and poise, even when things aren’t going well. At the end of the day, it was nice to win the game….we had to really gut it out.”

Indiana dominated the boards throughout the game, holding a 27-14 advantage at the half, and ending the game with 16 offensive boards. Four players put up double-digit points and two, double-digit rebounds. Kelsey Mitchell added 18 points, Natalie Achonwa, scored 11 points and grabbed 10 boards, and Eric Wheeler chipped in 10 points. Dupree said the Fever had to be concerned with Dallas even more so because they were winless.

“They’ll do anything to try to get a win, and this team is really athletic, scrappy. No quit in them,” Dupree said. “And I think they made some big runs and we were able to withstand that and pull out the win.”

The Wings were led by Kayla Thornton, who put up a career-high 19 points and grabbed seven boards. Theresa Plaisance and Imani McGee-Stafford each added 12 points, and Allisha Gray scored 10. Coach Brian Agler said the loss really hurt Thornton, but the overall team effort is what he likes to see.

“She put her heart into this game,” Agler said of Thornton. “When I talk about some of intangibles, the traits of a championship team that is where you start. I like how that last group played, and that is a starting point for us.”

That group included Thornton, Gray, McGee-Stafford, Plaisance and Brooke McCarty-Williams – the last three of which came off the bench. Plaisance said Dallas is still trying to come together as a team.

“It’s just about being consistent and our effort being consistent, our offense being consistent. Once we find it, I think that we’ll start having longer runs and get those runs a lot faster,” she said. “Our effort is there, and I think we have a competitive group that’s willing to do what it takes so we’re going to come out the next game with even more fire because we’re ready to win.”

Dallas moves on to the second game of their three-game home stand against the Atlanta Dream, who have not won again since facing the Wings in their home opener.

Injuries are hitting the Wings now, who are already without All-Star point guard Skylar Diggins-Smith. Tayler Hill will be out indefinitely after knee surgery, and rookie sensation Arike Ogunbowale, who sprained her ankle in a game over the weekend, is day-to-day. Forward Glory Johnson leaves for the Eurobasket tournament Sunday.

Today Dallas re-signed rookie forward Megan Gustafson, who was cut the day before the season began. She will suit up Saturday against Atlanta.

Consistency is what is missing in Dallas to begin the year. Thornton said she has faith that the team will push through and get on the right track.

“With all that we have going on, my faith is just really high and we all have to keep believing in ourselves. I have to step up and take charge,” she said. “This group can do many things but we have to find it within our hearts to do it. I have to dig within myself to lead it.”

Dallas will host the Dream Sunday and the Phoenix Mercury Thursday. The Fever will host the Chicago Sky Sunday and then will travel to Atlanta to face the Dream June 19.