September 6, 2021 

Dallas Wings suffer tough losses over the holiday weekend

Ogunbowale: 'We just got to lock in and make this playoffs'

With just two remaining playoff spots up for grabs, the Dallas Wings are still in the picture after suffering a tough 69-64 loss Sept. 5 against the Atlanta Dream. But the Wings suffered another type of loss the day before the game, when forward Isabelle Harrison had to enter the WNBA’s health and safety protocols after testing positive for COVID-19.

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Dallas is now without Harrison; forward Satou Sabally, who is day-to-day with an Achilles injury; and guard Moriah Jefferson, who is questionable as she did not return to Sunday’s game after tweaking her hamstring*. Guard Arike Ogunbowale, who posted a game-high 21 points, told the media after the game that the team has to have players step up and be ready to play.

“We can’t focus on what we don’t have,” Ogunbowale said. “We just have to focus on what we do have, and yeah, we just got to lock in and make this playoffs.”

Per The Next’s Em Adler, Dallas just has to win two of its final four games to secure a playoff berth. The Wings have gone 2-2 in their last four games. However, two of the next four games are against the top two teams in the league, the Connecticut Sun and the Las Vegas Aces, respectively. The intensity has increased as the season winds down and teams fight for not only playoff berths, but also seeding.

With three key pieces of the team missing, multiple players have been asked to step up. Head coach Vickie Johnson said she has asked guard Marina Mabrey, guard Tyasha Harris and 2021 No. 1 draft pick Charli Collier to really step up and be solid off the bench. Dallas has had the highest scoring bench this season, averaging 29.9 points a game.

The Wings have also been the third-best rebounding team all season, averaging 36.7 per game, and they pulled down 45 boards against the Dream. The difficulty has been the lack of consistency. Johnson said one of the unfortunate things about her team is that they let their offense dictate their defense and they have to do better.

“It’s going to take focus, it’s going to take effort from everyone to be locked in for 40 minutes, bring their best effort and fight until the end,” Johnson said. “We hold our own destiny, so it’s all about us.”

No information has been made available about the specifics of the health and safety protocols or how long it will take Harrison to return to the court. It will have to be next woman up as Dallas continues to make a playoff push.

*An earlier version of this story incorrectly said Jefferson had injured her knee, not her hamstring.

Written by Arie Graham

Arie Graham joined 'The Next' in May 2021 as the beat writer for the Dallas Wings.

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