When Connecticut Sun sideline reporter Terrika Foster-Brasby asked forward DeWanna Bonner what needs to occur after narrowing the deficit, her answer was rather simple.
“We have to find Arike,” the two-time WNBA champion responded. “She’s hitting tough shots, so we need to limit her touches.”
At this point in the game, Ogunbowale had 22 points on a stellar 84 percent true shooting clip after scoring only three points in the first quarter. The fifth-year pro capped off a phenomenal display of her offensive arsenal with eight points in the final frame, leading the way to a 29-12 run to end the game. Not to mention Dallas held Connecticut to just eight points in the last six minutes.
Ogunbowale led all scorers, finishing with 30 points on 11-for-20 shooting where seven of those makes came from behind the arc in her most accurate shooting performance of her career. Dallas as a team was 8-for-19 from deep, good for 42%. It represents her second game this season with seven made threes, which ties her career high set originally set on June 17 vs. Seattle.
Since entering the league in 2019, no player has recorded more 30-plus point games in that time span than Ogunbowale as she recorded her 15th game with such numbers tonight. Her performance Friday night was her 17th 20+ point game of the season, tying her for the third alongside Seattle’s Jewell Lloyd.
In the 95-75 win, Dallas is responsible for two of Connecticut’s last three losses. The Sun have lost three straight games for the first time since 2021. The loss additionally represented the first time the Sun lost a game by 20 or more points since 2021 and the first time since 2018 that they lost back-to-back games by double digits.
After fouling out in their last matchup, Wings center Teaira McCowan responded in a way only she can, and it all starts on the offensive glass. The Wings enjoyed a 19-7 advantage in second points and McCowan is largely responsible. Of her 1 1 rebounds, six came via the offensive glass. This is the eighth time this season that nearly half or more of her rebounds came on the offensive end.
In the July 5th loss to the Las Vegas Aces, seven of McCowan’s 11 rebounds were off the offensive glass. In the only loss to date against the Sun on July 25, 10 of her 15 rebounds came on the offensive end.
With McCowan towering over most WNBA post players, I asked her to explain the difficulty in cleaning the glass in the dominating fashion that she does. She told me that it’s not easy at all, especially when smaller players tend to swipe at the ball to force a turnover, and she couldn't have been more on the money. Of her 10 attempts from the free throw line in the win Friday night, nearly half of them were due to Sun players attempting to steal the ball. McCowan finished with her seventh double-double of the season with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Center Kalani Brown was a breath of fresh air when deployed due to teammates in foul trouble. In only 14 minutes of play, the former Baylor Lady Bear scored 14 points on 4-for-4 shooting from the field. She couldn’t miss at the charity stripe either with a perfect 6-for-6. Brown is crucial for Dallas as the team gears up for the playoff run ahead and always shows up and shows out, no matter the circumstance.
When speaking with Foster-Brasby during the game, Wings head coach Latricia Trammell called veteran forward Natasha Howard “the calm of the storm” so I asked her about it and the presence a player like Howard brings to this team.
“I love this part because even when she came out of the game, she was still peer coaching the reserves and brought attention to things she saw during the game. That's what you want from a veteran leader, so you’re right. It shows her veteran leadership and even though she got in a bit of foul trouble, look at the game she had. Always motivating and encouraging her teammates. I’m a big Natasha Howard fan.”
Howard has been a mainstay for this Dallas team through thick and thin this season, quite literally. When McCowan was overseas competing for the Turkish national team, Howard held down the fort as the Wings looked to her to step up and fill in the void left by McCowan at the center position. Never wavering away from what the team needs at any given moment, Howard has been a breath of fresh air in Dallas.
With just nine games left in the 2023 WNBA regular season, Dallas (17-14) looks to add to their two-game lead in fourth place over the Atlanta Dream (16-16) in order to acquire home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.