Arlington, Texas – The Dallas Wings (6-15) end their six-game skid Thursday with a dominant 87-64 performance against the New York Liberty (8-12).
It was the third time this season that the Wings had five players score in double-digits, with rookie guard Arike Ogunbowale leading the way with 22 points. Dallas had a season-high 24 assists and showed better ball movement to go along with their second-highest scoring output for the season.
Coach Brian Agler said he is impressed with how Ogunbowale has handled the pressure of learning to play point guard while shouldering the load offensively for the team as a newcomer. The former Notre Dame standout is the team’s leading scorer at 14.6 points per game.
“Arike is that she has come to our team (when) we are missing a few people who could have been good mentors to her, and we put the ball in her hands at the point guard position, which she has never really played before,” Agler said.
“If you watch how she has progressed throughout the season, all those things that with against her and how she has taken it upon herself to sort of be the go-to player for us, and now the team is wanting her to do that and be that, and she has been great.”
Kayla Thornton also scored 14 points, Allisha Gray and Isabelle Harrison added 13 each, and Gray had a team-high nine assists.
Kia Nurse led the Liberty with 13 points, but it was the 21 turnovers for 30 points that kept New York out of the game. The Wings’ defense held them to 35 percent shooting – well below their 40.5 season average.
“You know, credit to them. They hit shots,” Nurse said. “They moved the ball well. They play to their strengths really well, and they did that tonight.”
Rebecca Allen added 11 points and rookie Asia Durr chipped in 10 points for the visitors.
Dallas has yet to get a win on the road this season, but will look to keep their two-win momentum going when they host the Las Vegas Aces Saturday.
Wings rookie Megan Gustafson has been taking advantage of her extended minutes of late, chipping in 11 points and pulling down eight rebounds against New York. Gustafson said she and the team have been working hard in practice.
“We’ve been really hungry to get (the win), and I think that hunger fueled us,” Gustafson said. “I think it was a great way to bounce back.”
New York is just outside of the playoff picture, sitting two games behind the Phoenix Mercury for the ninth seed. Coach Katie Smith said she knew Dallas would attack hard after a tough loss two nights before.
“We talked about how we had to battle. We had to hit them. We had to hit them and go get it. But they kept coming and we didn’t push back enough,” Smith said. “We also knew they’d come hard and attack us. But they just took us off the dribble, made plays and got us on our heels. But yeah, kudos to them. They played really well.”
With only six wins on the season, 11th place is not where the Wings wanted to be, but Agler said everyone is starting to fit in a little better now and thinks the team will have a better showing this weekend.
“We’ve done a good job with some of their key players, but it is some of the role players that have gotten us,” Agler said. “When they come in and sub, they don’t drop off and sometimes they play better; that has been a strength of their team and a very strong strength against us.”
The Wings struggled offensively, averaging 38 percent shooting from the field – the second-lowest percentage in the league. They will need to have a strong defense presence on top of a good shooting night in order to get the win against a team they have not matched up well with previously in the Aces.
Liz Cambage makes her return to Dallas for the first time this season after being traded prior to the season.