By: Anthony Miller
After what has been a joyful ride during the season for the Dallas Wings, their season came to an end as the Las Vegas Aces defeated the Wings in Arlington Friday night 64-61.
It was a game of runs with the Las Vegas Aces getting off the gates strong with a 15-8 lead with 4:34 in the first quarter. Dallas stormed back with a 10-1 run to close the quarter with an 18-16 lead after the first quarter thanks to two Wings three-pointers and Arike Ogunbowale’s four points.
The run continues for the Wings opening the second quarter with a 5-0 run to take a 23-16 lead. Back-to-back three-pointers by Alysha Clark and Kelsey Plum got Las Vegas to close the gap to one point. A sold-out College Park Center got to witness why Ogunbowale is one of the best scorers in the WNBA as she knocked down two pull-up three-pointers with under two minutes left in the half as the Wings went into the locker room up 36-31.
During the third quarter, it was the Aces off to a fast start, but the lead changed multiple times before Ogunbowale hit a nice turnaround bank shot with 20 seconds left to put Dallas up 51-49 going into the fourth quarter.
Dallas went on a 10-4 run in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter to hold their biggest lead of the game at eight points. After the Aces’ timeout with 4:59 to go in the game, Las Vegas turned up the heat offensively and defensively. Dallas would not score again in the game as the Aces closed on an 11-0 run as Ogunbowale missed the potential game-tying three-pointer as time expired. Las Vegas won the game 64-61 and the series 3-0 effectively ending the Dallas Wings season.
Ogunbowale finished as the leading scorer with 18 points, adding seven rebounds and two assists. Natasha Howard had a good game with 14 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and two blocked shots. Teaira McCowan was the only Dallas Wings player with a double-double closing the game with ten points, 15 rebounds, and two steals.
Reflections and Reactions on Loss
There are a lot of moments to go back and look upon for Dallas and the reason they couldn’t pull out a win. Both teams struggled to shoot the ball, but the Wings struggled more, only hitting 31 percent of their shots compared to Las Vegas’ 40 percent.
The free throw line wasn’t much better for Dallas as they only converted 46.7 percent of their free throws. Dallas Wings head coach Latricia Trammell spoke to the misses but wanted to shift the focus to the effort of the team.
“We left eight free throws at the free throw line. I mean, we could go and talk about different possessions that put us in this situation, but I’m going to go back to the effort, the resilience of this team, the competitive spirit and just the performances of each of these players. I thought that was pretty special.”
Coach Trammell also walked through the final moments of the game and how she might have changed how she approached it.
“I wish if I went back, I know we wanted to call a timeout with 11 seconds, I probably would just let it run. That’s usually what I do. But I want to put them in a situation where they feel the most comfortable. And so if you put Arike with an open three, I’ll take that and then have them saw two finish it off.”
The most glaring issue for Dallas’ offense was no points being scored in the last five minutes of the game. Ogunbowale spoke about the struggles at the end of the game.
“I don’t think we made a shot. In the last five minutes, so that was definitely, obviously big. We were doing well getting stops, but then they started hitting up and we weren’t hitting, and that’s how they tied it up.”
For Natasha Howard reflecting on her first season with the Dallas Wings, the pain of the loss hurts, but embraces the team she is with.
“It sucks right now, but at the end of the day, I’m part of this group, this team. What we did this whole season, we had our ups and downs, injuries from left and right, but the way we came together through this whole season and where we at and how much history we made in this organization is amazing. And it’s a blessing to have some group of young women that want to work, they want to get better as a whole.”
Coach Trammell also completes her first season as head coach of the Dallas Wings. Reflecting on the season, her most memorable moment was the connections made with the team.
“I think for me it was just being the first time here and just relationships that we built together and how supportive of one another and of me and just those moments off the court that we shared and adversity that we go through and just all those moments that brings you closer together.”
Without a doubt, this has been the most successful season for the Wings since the franchise moved to Dallas as they previously never made the semifinals in Arlington. The team will think about this game and series for a while, but come the 2024 season, the Wings look like a team that will be contenders for the next few seasons. Their future has never looked as bright as it does after the 2023 season.
Featured Image via Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images