After close losses, how Dallas conquered Seattle
Examining what Wings can do with a full roster
Welcome to The Next: A basketball newsroom brought to you by The IX. 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage, written, edited and photographed by our young, diverse staff, dedicated to breaking news, analysis, historical deep dives and projections about the game we love.
Subscribe to make sure this vital work, creating a pipeline of young, diverse media professionals to write, edit and photograph the great game, continues and grows. Paid subscriptions include some exclusive content, but the reason for subscriptions is a simple one: making sure our writers and editors creating 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage get paid to do it.
The Dallas Wings got more than a 68-67 road win against the reigning champion Seattle Storm on Saturday.
They got the treasure map, according to their head coach.
“We have the blueprint,” Vickie Johnson told reporters. “They know the blueprint. Now we just have to do it.”
Of course, it helps when this can be on the blueprint, thanks to Arike Ogunbowale:
The series against Seattle was challenging and exhilarating. But the differences between two close defeats to the Storm, and this win, were evident long before Ogunbowale hit her game-winner.
The Wings are in the midst of a five-game road trip and their roster is finally set. The return of five-year guard Allisha Gray and second-year forward Satou Sabally evens out the minutes played and allows for more flexibility on both sides of the ball.
A momentum shift for the Wings
The 3-5 record is not reflective of the play that has been seen from Dallas, a team currently fourth in the WNBA in net rating. They snapped the Storm’s six-game winning streak handing them their second loss of the season which could have easily been their third. The Wings have been struggling to close games, losing by an average 4.6 points.
In this final matchup against Seattle for the regular season they were able to stick together and grind out the win. Ogunbowale hits yet another big-time shot, one that came at no surprise to Johnson.
“Arike is amazing. Big shot after big shot and, you know, I tried to set it to the corner she just wanted a ball in to make it happen so I'm very proud of her,” Johnson said. She's a leader and every day she's shown that, not only in offensively but defensively as well.”
Ogunbowale’s former Notre Dame teammate Marina Mabrey was tripped up on the final play and did not see Ogunbowale shoot the ball. But she was not surprised that is was her that hit the game-winner.
“I was so happy she made it, cuz that's her time, she is the best player at buzzer beaters so it was cool to see her do it again,” Mabrey said.
Changes that can be expected with full roster
Dallas missed some crucial pieces with Gray and Sabally out. Now that they have returned the floor spreads offensively and they can be more active defensively. The grind has been tough without key players but it gave other players the opportunity to play some valuable minutes. Mabrey made the most of her time, becoming the team’s second-leading scorer on the team in Gray’s absence.
One thing that Johnson has told reporters is that she wants her team to play their minutes hard. They were not able to do that will a couple of players carrying much of the load. Now, minutes can be evenly distributed and fresh legs can be thrown at their opponents without a drop in offense.
Johnson said that she is growing tired of the team’s youth being mentioned as if it is a contributing factor because stat-wise they are in the mix with some of the top teams in the league — like their upcoming opponents the Phoenix Mercury and Las Vegas Aces.
“If you look at the stats, across the board defensively and offensively we're right there with them. So it's a matter of us just really being disciplined and consistent in what we do as a team. We hold our own destiny,” Johnson said.
They’ll continue to reveal that destiny against the Mercury June 8 and June 11.