Dallas Wings, ‘disciplined on defense and offense,’ extend series with Game 2 road victory

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The No. 6 seed Dallas Wings saved their season for at least one more game, staving off elimination on the road, and earning the franchise’s first playoff win since its relocation with an 89-79 victory Sunday over the No. 3 seed Connecticut Sun in Game 2 of the first round of the WNBA playoffs.

The organization had previously last won a playoff game on Sept. 23, 2009, when it was still located in Detroit and had lost eight consecutive playoff contests — tied for the longest playoff losing streak in league history — dating back to the end of the Shock era and through more recent stints in Tulsa and Dallas.

Under the WNBA’s new playoff format, the series now moves to a winner-take-all Game 3 in Dallas on Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET for a spot in the semifinals.

“Every year, our goal is to make the playoffs and for us to take the step to get a win I believe is very important,” said Allisha Gray, who was drafted by Dallas in 2017. “Now we go home to Dallas to play in front of our home fans. So we’re very excited about that.”

After the Sun trounced the Wings by 25 in Game 1, Sunday’s bounce-back marked the second time in WNBA postseason history that a team lost by 25 or more points but won their following game by double figures.

“We were focused and we were very disciplined on defense and offense,” Wings coach Vickie Johnson said. “We moved the basketball. We played together as a team. And we believed. As soon as we lost, we came in with a different focus the last few days.

“We gave 110% on both energy and effort.”

The Wings’ recent hot streak (they went 6-2 to close the regular season) has been all the more impressive given the absence of Arike Ogunbowale, who’s been a top five scorer in the WNBA since she was drafted in 2019 but has been ruled out through the first round with an abdominal injury.

Kayla Thornton led the Wings with 20 points (including 4 for 6 on 3s), followed by Teaira McCowan off the bench with 17 and Gray with 15.

Connecticut’s Jones duo — Brionna and Jonquel, no relation — each finished with 20 points.

The Sun are hoping to make the semifinals for the fourth consecutive season; they lost to the eventual champion Chicago Sky in four games in the semifinals last year.

“This is why you play series,” Sun coach Curt Miller said. “This is why the coaches are excited about this type of format. Winning and losing in this league is razor thin. Dallas reminds me a lot of Chicago from last year. They are a .500 team that frankly has better than .500 talent. They got hot late in the year. That is an elite, talented team that has top four talent in this league. So we knew this was going to be a very difficult series and we’re right to an elimination game. Not at all a surprise to people that really understand how much talent they have.”

The foundation for the rout was laid early on: Behind greater defensive energy from the Wings compared to Thursday, the Sun scored just 7 points in the first quarter, their low from any period this season and tied for their second lowest in any playoff quarter since the league switched from halves to quarters in 2006, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Not helping the matter was that the Sun started 1-7 on open shots.

Dallas jumped ahead by as many as 19 in the first half and used a 30-17 third-quarter to blow open the game for good. Then, despite leading by as many as 31 in the fourth, the Sun outscored the Wings 32-13 that frame to make the final score look better than how the majority of the game went.

The Wings beat the Sun at their own game, outscoring them in transition (13-6), on second chance points (23-11) and points off turnovers (20-13). Connecticut also only forced eight Dallas turnovers compared to 17 in Game 1.

“It’s the playoffs,” reigning WNBA MVP Jonquel Jones said. “One minute you’re up, the next minute you’re down, but you have to weather that storm and be ready to play. We know what we’re capable of. We’re not in panic mode at all.”


This page was created programmatically, to read the article in its original location you can go to the link bellow:
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Alexa Philippou

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