The Dallas Wings are 2-0 to start the season for the first time since 2007, back when they were still the Detroit Shock.
“We’ll take it,” Head coach Latricia Trammell said after the 95-91 victory over the Seattle Storm at Climate Pledge Arena Friday night. “That’s something. We’ll take it. I just announced that to the team. We’ll build off of that. It’s those little rewards along the way that I think will keep this team confident and excited to play.”
Perennial pro Arike Ogunbowale poured in 26 points, leading Dallas in scoring to start 2023. Going 7-for-13 on twos and 3-for-8 on threes, she moved into fourth place all-time in the Wings’ scoring list with 2,373, passing Hall of Famer Swin Cash.
The first twenty minutes saw double-digit performances from Ogunbowale who had 19 points, dropping 12 in the opening frame on a 17-3 run in favor of the Wings.
Satou Sabally scored 11 points on 55.6% shooting. She finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists. At the 11-second mark in the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Dream, Sabally rejected a shot that eventually sealed the victory for Dallas. In Seattle Friday night, she secured a timely offensive rebound for a put back, making it a two-possession game with less than five seconds in regulation.
“I’ll tell you what, she’s having fun,” said Trammell on Sabally’s dominance. “That’s exactly what Satou will tell you. She has bought in. Tonight with the double-double – 17 points [and] 10 rebounds. She’s just playing with tons of confidence, and she knows this is a big year for her and she’s embracing that.”
2023 is the year of Sabally. While the injuries to start the season are unfortunate, Sabally has had her fair share and knows what it feels like to not be on the floor competing. This is why I believe she’s taken this opportunity and hasn’t looked back yet.
“I’ve had some really hard years,” Sabally said after the win over Atlanta. “It’s nice to show what I can do. I never stopped believing in myself so I’m definitely happy and proud of myself but it's a long season and you have to carry that over [into the next game].”
With the force she’s started with this season and mounds of determination in her pockets, I see no reason why Sabally’s ascension shouldn’t continue.
Natasha Howard added four blocks and five steals for her second career game with as many. Per Kevin Pelton of ESPN, she joined some elite company in the WNBA record book as her, Lisa Leslie, Tamika Catchings, and Yolanda Griffith are the only four payers in league history with multiple games with such stat lines. With a double-double in the home opener against the Atlanta Dream, Howard found herself one rebound shy of her second to start the season, finishing the evening with 17 points and nine rebounds.
“You’ve got to think that she’s starting her 10th season in the league. I mean, she is that vet leadership. This is her,” Trammell said. “If you follow her on social media, she said this is her family. It feels right to her. Even when she came off the court at one point just so I could give her a little break, I looked at her and I said this is your season. And she’s embracing that. I haven’t seen so many smiles on that young lady’s face since she got here. She’s a big factor in this team and a huge part of us winning.”
With the exception of Burton, Dallas saw four starters tally double digits.
Though they played a mere nine minutes together, the 5-woman lineup of Dickey, Dangerfield, Ogunbowale, Sabally, and Howard fielded a team-best +/- of 19. This group also allowed the second-fewest points while holding the Storm to a 38.5 effective field goal percentage.
During pregame, Trammell said she plugged veteran guard Crystal Dangerfield into the starting lineup for defense in guarding Jewell Loyd, but her offense shone just as bright. In nearly 38 minutes of play, Dangerfield dropped 17 points on a blistering 85% True Shooting percentage. Rallying in the poise department down the stretch, Dangerfield has spoken to her role this season and has embraced it fully.
“Anytime we get a win…anytime I step out on the floor, I’m good,” Dangerfield said on placing second in team scoring. “That’s my job to make sure that this team comes out with a win.”
Dickey scored a career-high 10 points in 14 minutes of action while leading the team with a plus/minus of 15. Throughout training camp, Trammell has spoken at length on the level of professionalism and preparedness she’s witnessed from her two reserve guards. Given the injuries Dallas is currently facing, this isn’t lost on the rest of the team either.
“We just celebrated them hard in the locker room,” Trammell said. “Jasmine Dickey was all smiles and I loved it because her team was giving her high fives and hugs and that’s what she wants. She was five of six from the field, and I’m just really proud of her. And I’m just proud of her due diligence. You know, after practice, she goes to a separate gym and puts up shots in there by herself. And she ended the night with plus-15. That is huge.”
The Wings cap off their first road trip of the season with a matchup with the Chicago Sky at Wintrust Arena.