August 6, 2020 

The Dallas Wings need to start at the beginning

Spirited comeback contained positives, but early struggles continued

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PALMETTO, FL- AUGUST 4: Arike Ogunbowale #24 of the Dallas Wings shoots the ball against the Chicago Sky on August 4, 2020 at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida.

The Dallas Wings, 2-3 this season, have displayed an admirable ability to come back all season long. But the young team still has to learn how to close out wins, falling short on Tuesday to the Chicago Sky, 82-79.

Chicago’s Cheyenne Parker made a great defensive stop, combined with a rookie mistake by Satou Sabally in the final seconds, to seal the game. It was a veteran move from Parker, who has the experience to have learned what is required at the critical moment in the game.

“It’s a tough loss for us,” Dallas head coach Brian Agler said. “We competed hard and we worked to get ourselves back in the game and got the lead a couple times, which is good, but we have to find a way to get off to better starts.”

In this league, you have to be able to close out games if you want to make the playoffs and advance. Dallas had its chances against one of the league’s best teams, but once again a slow start doomed the Wings. The Sky began the game on an 11-0 run, and the Wings shot 0-for-7 from the field during that stretch.

The team did show the ability to make some big plays in key moments. Rookie Bella Alarie had a stellar defensive effort in the final minute, forcing a jump ball on the Sky’s Courtney Vandersloot. Alarie has been a defensive stopper for multiple games now and blocked four shots in Tuesday’s game. She leads all WNBA rookies with eight blocks in her first five games.

Arike Ogunbowale both scored and created open shots. She scored 21 points in the second half to help Dallas get close, including seven of the teams’ first 10 points in the quarter. Down the stretch, she became facilitator, including this pass late in the game under the basket to Alarie, who then kicked to Kayla Thornton for an open three-pointer with just over a minute to play to bring the margin down to three.

Agler recognizes this team will always compete but also knows they can’t continue to those slow starts offensively.

That improvement not only needs to come on offense but defense as well. Not only do they start missing shots, but they allow the opposing team to get what they want early and build a lead.

It’s a consensus throughout the team that they now know what they need to change, though Thornton was still pleased with how her team battled back against Chicago.

“Unfortunately, we got the loss tonight, but I can’t be too mad,” Thornton said. “I don’t want to use the fact that we are a young team as an excuse, but we are making shots that I thought it would take some time too. It is just the beginning. This is a learning experience for us, and I am really proud of our team. Chicago is one of the top teams in the league and our effort to fight back and not give up, being relentless in different things, I can’t be mad at that.”

Dallas will look to right those wrongs on Thursday when they face DeWanna Bonner and the Connecticut Sun at 8 PM EST.

Written by Drew Ivery

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