By: Anthony Miller
Despite a strong first half, the Dallas Wings were not able to keep up with the Las Vegas Aces as they lost 97-83 Sunday to be down 1-0 in the WNBA semifinals.
Dallas stayed competitive in the first half as the game never seemed out of reach in both quarters. The Wings were only down by one heading into the second quarter. Two big three-pointers from Satou Sabally in the second quarter prevented Dallas from going down big. The Wings went into halftime with just a four-point deficit 49-45.
The first half of the game played out offensively similarly to game two against the Atlanta Dream as Dallas had six players score five or more points in the first half. After a down performance in the first round of the playoffs, Natasha Howard got off to a good start, leading the team with nine points and four rebounds. Even with 49 points allowed, the Wings defense kept them in the game with eight first-half turnovers forced.
Things turned for the worse in the second half for Dallas as 2022 WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson went off for the Aces. Wilson scored 16 points in the half with assistance from Kelsey Plum who had 13 points and Jackie Young who scored 11 points in the half. Las Vegas outscored Dallas 26-12 in the third quarter which was the deciding factor in the game.
26 fourth-quarter points from Dallas were not enough to get them back in the game as the Wings fell to the Aces 97-83. The loss has the Wings trailing in the series 1-0 heading into Game 2.
Six players scored in double figures in points for Dallas led by Sabally who has 16 points in the game. She also added seven rebounds and seven assists in the loss. Arike Ogunbowale scored just 12 points, adding three rebounds and six assists as well.
What Caused Dallas’ Loss and How They Turn It Around?
Let’s get the negatives of the game over with. Dallas’ offense struggled to shoot the ball compared to Las Vegas throughout the contest.
The Wings finished shooting 43.7 percent from the field and converted just 66.7 percent of their free throws. Las Vegas was able to shoot 53.6 percent from the field and it went 100 percent from the free throw line. Adding that the Aces outrebounded Dallas 36-29 in the game.
Vegas played tough defense in the second half finishing the game with seven blocks and forcing bad shots from Dallas. Ogunbowale struggled shooting making 4 of 14 shots as there were times, she was forcing step-back shots up that didn’t go through. Shot selection has been a concern for the team, especially when falling behind in games.
As for how Dallas moves forward, the offense wasn’t necessarily bad for the Wings as they are having a lot more balance offensively with everyone contributing to the scoring. Where the team needs to improve is playing toucher defense.
Vegas is a good shooting team on the perimeter and Wilson is obviously dominant in the paint. Teaira McCowan will need to play better against Wilson by forcing Las Vegas to take more shots on the outside instead of in the paint. The Aces scored 46 points in the paint so less activity inside will help Dallas stay in the game.
Dallas showed good signs in Game 1 after a good first-half performance. How they played in the first half is how they will be able to pull off the upset against the WNBA’s top regular season team.
The Wings and Aces will play each other once again on Tuesday at 9:00 p.m. CST in Game 2 before they head to Arlington, TX on Friday for Game 3. Game 2 can be watched on ESPN.
Featured Image via X (@DallasWings)