Facing a four-game home stand after playing four games in eight days, the Dallas Wings looked to enjoy “sleeping in their own beds” as head coach Latricia Trammell routinely says after a road trip. They surely didn’t enjoy dropping the first two games to the Chicago Sky.
The Sky came to Dallas this weekend with a one-game lead over the Los Angeles Sparks for the eighth and final playoff seed. As the dust settled Sunday evening, they’ll leave North Texas with a bit of breathing room as the lead was increased to two games after the 104-96 victory over the Wings.
“I’m really proud of our fight, that’s something that I’m very impressed with, and it was definitely a group effort,” said head coach Latricia Trammell to the media. “We had some solid minutes from a lot of players especially going small at the end to get a chance to get back in it and cause some turnovers. But, we didn’t back down, so I am proud of that for this team.”
The team rallied to make a run in the fourth quarter, but it was too late. Out of eight quarters of play in the last two games against Chicago, the Wings won only two of them, the second being the final frame Sunday evening.
“We just have to follow the plan,” Trammell said on defending shooters. “We’ve got to do better at defending the ball just 1-on-1 because a lot of times we made an adjustment from what hurt us last game with the screen and rescreen, and then we gave up the three today. But I have to say it, I give Chicago credit because they have been shooting the basketball extremely well. There were a lot of times that we had a hand in their face, but they just flat-out nailed it. So, if we’re there, we must do our work earlier and disrupt passing lanes.”
The Wings took a rain check on hustle and effort for two games as it was severely lacking in both. They struggled extensively on closing out on Sky shooters and over-helping inside the arc as Chicago shot 58.3% from three Friday night and 46% today in the season finale between these teams.
Fouls and free throws played a dynamic role in the win Sunday as the teams combined for 54 fouls and 70 free throw attempts, 35 each. Today’s 70 combined free throw attempts are a season-high in the WNBA, exceeding the previous high of 67 set in a game between Dallas and Atlanta on June 20. The last time there were 70 or more combined free throw attempts in a game was exactly a year ago today (8/6/22, IND vs. DAL – 74). The 54 fouls are the most in a WNBA game since August 2, 2020 (PHO vs. NYL - 59).
Satou Sabally recorded a team-leading 25 points, connecting on half of the Wings’ shots from deep, and dished out eight assists. Natasha Howard finished with 24 points on 6-for-9 shooting, while also going 11-for-13 from the free throw line.
For just the second time this season, star guard Arike Ogunbowale went scoreless in the first half. She finished with 14 points on 6-for-18 shooting (33%). In her last five games, she’s shot below 40 percent.
The week doesn’t get easier as the Las Vegas Aces are in town for a Tuesday and the Connecticut Sun on Saturday.
“We’ve got a hard stretch, don’t we?”, Trammell replied when asked about the rough road ahead. “If we can just survive until we finally get our break which will be during the Commissioners Cup, we get 3 full days that I am giving this team. I think about the journey we’ve been on and when we played Vegas the last time, they had four days off. We go to play Chicago, they had four days off, and we’re coming off a crazy schedule of traveling plus games, and it keeps hitting us. But these players are tired you know? Because their mental health and recovery is really the most important thing, so sometimes they have to make adjustments on the fly.”