Liz Cambage entered halftime versus the New York Liberty with an impressive 28 points. On that alone, it was a notable game for the third-year center. She had reached the mark three times this season but never in a single half.
The first half performance came after an emotional week for Cambage. Foul trouble and stout competition resulted in the lowest-scoring stretch of her MVP-caliber season. The Wings’ loss in Seattle ended a franchise high five game win streak.
“It’s just the WNBA,” said teammate Skylar Diggins-Smith. “Everybody beats everybody. That game in Seattle, we wish we had that one back.
“Liz was really hard on herself after that game, and I told her not to put all that pressure on herself. I tell her all the time that she is definitely the most dominant player in the league, and then she proved it.”
Cambage lived up to Diggins-Smith’s billing in the fourth quarter versus the Liberty, turning an outstanding first half into a record-breaking performance- 20 points on 8-of-8 shooting from the field, including two 3-pointers. When she walked off the court at the final buzzer, she had a WNBA record 53 points in a single game.
“I had my game face on right from the beginning,” Cambage said postgame, after scoring 11 of the first 13 points to start the game for Dallas. “I was feeling it.”
Feeling it, indeed. Cambage scored her record on 77 percent shooting from the field (17-of-22) and by hitting 15 of 16 from the free throw line. Her four 3-pointers were a career high. Cambage rounded out her impressive box score with 10 rebounds, five blocks, two assists, and a steal.
Despite the noise she made around the league, Cambage herself said she was unaware she was close to the record until teammate Karima Christmas-Kelly told her on the bench after she had been subbed out for a final time with 26 seconds remaining in the game.
Cambage was not the only Wings player tuned in to her stat line. Even a teammate who had been a part of a record performance before was caught off guard. Diggins-Smith was a teammate of Riquna Williams on the Tulsa Shock in 2013, and has now been witness to the top two individual scoring games in league history. It was Williams’ 51-point game that previously held the record.
“Bay-Bay (Williams’ nickname) had to hit some tough shots and some step-back threes,” Diggins-Smith said. “Everyone watching it really noticed. With Liz, she was scoring at such a steady pace and wasn’t taking a ton of shots. I looked up and was surprised when I saw she had 50.”
“As I’ve said before, Liz is the most dominant player in the league and I’m glad she is on my team.”