Arlington, Texas – A second straight 30-plus-point performance from rookie of the year candidate Arike Ogunbowale wasn’t enough Saturday, as the first-place Washington Mystics held off the Dallas Wings down the stretch for a 91-85 win.
Washington has now won a franchise-best 23 wins on the year with three games left in the regular season. Four of their five starters scored in double digits, led by MVP candidate Elena Delle Donne, who had 28 points.
The Mystics, with the WNBA’s leading offense, came out of the gate strong, but Dallas put up a fight in the second half. Delle Donne said her team’s versatility forced their opponents to play a big line up.
“For three quarters, it did a lot. It didn’t help us so much in the fourth quarter. But it just makes us tough to guard. I mean, when we played a big lineup like that, they were struggling,” Delle Donne said. “But it kind of backfired on us in the fourth quarter because they finally got some offensive boards and we didn’t score.”
The Wings are eliminated from playoff contention, but continue to play opponents tough. Ogunbowale has 543 points for her career so far, and as now tied Delle Donne for tenth-most points during a rookie season. Ogunbowale is the third rookie to have ever dropped 30 points in back-to-back games, and she also tied her career high in assists against the Mystics after dishing out seven dimes.
The 5-8 guard said she’s not on the court trying to prove anything to anyone, she is just having fun doing what she loves.
“Playoffs was the goal, and that’s not attainable anymore, but that doesn’t mean we bring our intensity down at all,” Ogunbowale said. “So, we’re just playing for each other, we’re playing to win the game, we’re playing for the future, and we’re just going to give it our all as if we were contending for the WNBA championship.”
Both teams had to adjust to playing with limited benches. The Mystics had eight active players and the Wings, nine. Glory Johnson, who had 20 points for Dallas, said the team will continue to play hard, because they are competitors.
“It’s our job to come in here and do this and compete. We have a game, we still have to show out for our fans and the people that come and support us every day,” Johnson said. “We’re not just going to roll over and let people beat us just because we can’t make it into the playoffs. We want to challenge them and try to mess it up for somebody. That’s what we’re trying to do. We’re here to play hard and give it our all every single day.”
Ogunbowale said she is already looking forward to what Dallas can do next season.
“We have a bright future,” she said. “I’m super, super excited for what’s to come with a nice little core of people, and just going to add a lot of players next year, and you know, we’re going to be a contending team in the playoffs next year, I feel it.”