Arlington, Texas – The Dallas Wings came from behind to edge the Minnesota Lynx, 89-86, Sunday to end a 12-game losing streak to the franchise.
Six Dallas players scored in double-digits, led by rookie Arike Ogunbowale’s 19 points. Kayla Thornton scored 17 points and Theresa Plaisance put up 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for their first win over Minnesota since June, 2015.
Both teams came with a balanced offensive attack, with all five starters on both squads notching double-digits. The Lynx began the game on a tear, and had scored 53 points by halftime. Wings coach Brian Agler told his team at halftime that they would have to step up their defense.
“It’s easy to make excuses, but we are not going to go down that path because that doesn’t solve anything,” Agler said. “Because the next time you do it then you are going to make another excuse so we are not going to open up that can.”
It was the most points any team has put up on Dallas in the first half this season. But by locking down on defense in each of the last two quarters, they outscored the visitors, 48-33. It was a season-high for points in the second half for them. The Wings currently sit in tenth place, they are 4-2 at home, but have not been able to win on the road.
Odyssey Sims led Minnesota with 23 points, while Danielle Robinson had 16 and Sylvia Fowles added 14.
Fowles said their opponents were able to finish plays at game’s end, while they were not.
“When it was time for us to execute, we didn’t quite get it done” Fowles said. “I think we had two good passes: one from Napheesa (Collier) to me inside and I lost it, then one from D-Rob (Danielle Robinson) to Step(hanie Talbot) and she lost it. So, I think we got some good looks, but we just weren’t able to execute down the stretch.”
Dallas was coming off of a 69-68 road loss in New York, where Ogunbowale had one of the worst shooting nights in WNBA history for any player, going 2-23. As a team, the Wings have the second worst shooting percentage in the league, at 37.8 percent. Against the Lynx, they shot 49 percent from the field, with Ogunbowale going 7-12 from the field and 3-4 from behind the arc.
She said tough shooting nights are going to happen, but said she was determined to bounce back.
“As a team, you know, I think we played great. We found each other, all our shots were in rhythm, especially in the second half. We came together and that was a big win,” Ogunbowale said.
The Wings have been inconsistent offensively, but Agler said the team plays the best when their offense originates in the front court. Doing so Sunday aided the team in hitting key threes down the stretch of the game.
“Most of those threes were off penetration getting the defense to rotate and we shoot the ball so much better when we can do that,” Agler said.
Dallas is allowing the third-fewest points, with their opponents averaging 74 points per game. However, they also allow the third-best field goal percentage to their opponents at 41 percent. Plaisance has been with the team five years, and is currently the oldest active member on the roster at 27. The 6-5 forward said the team has a defensive identity, but they are still working to improve offensively.
“We are feeling each other out a lot better, we have a lot of people who are either playing out of position or learning a new position and a lot of people have not played together yet,” Plaisance said. “Developing that chemistry is going to help us down the road, but ball movement and sticking to the scouting report is something that helps us intermediately.”
The Wings have played the first third of the season, and are a game and a half out of the playoff picture. Most of the roster is new, as is Agler. But he said he was proud of how his team was able to execute during the guts of what was a bit of a high-stakes game for the team – especially out-of-bounds plays.
“We were so bad early that we had to practice, and practice drawing up plays and having them execute, because it takes a certain maturity as a player and as a group to execute some of these things,” Agler said. “I was really proud of them.”
Dallas does not currently have a player in the top 10 in points, rebounds or assists. Last seasonthey had a representative in each category, with Liz Cambage leading the league in scoring and averaging second in rebounds, and Skylar Diggins-Smith ranking third in assists. This season the team is attacking as a unit, but they are missing veteran leadership, as they have been without Glory Johnson for two weeks due to her Eurobasket commitment with team Montenegro. But that team was eliminated from the tournament over the weekend, and the Wings could have her back for their Friday match up with the Indiana Fever.