By Kayte Ledbetter
The Dallas Wings (21-18) defeated the Seattle Storm (11-27), 106-91, on Friday, September 8 in their final home game of the regular season. With the win, the Wings clinched the number four seed in the 2023 WNBA Playoffs and will host a first round series for the first time since moving to Dallas. The 21 wins represent the most since the relocation and are the most in franchise history since 2008 when the team recorded 22 wins while in Detroit.
“I’m so happy for this team,” said Wings Head Coach Latricia Trammell following the victory. “When you see people go through their different journeys, go through different teams, and just come here and buy-in, that connection and will to win is something I love.”
It took Natasha Howard all but six seconds to score the first basket of the game for Dallas, turning Teaira McCowan’s won tip into an assist. With her jump shot at 9:18 in the opening quarter, Arike Ogunbowale became the sixth player in WNBA history to record 800 points in a single season. McCowan marked the finale of the Wings’ dominant first quarter with a layup with less than a second on the clock, a basket that gave Dallas a 12-point advantage leading into the second quarter.
The Wings came out firing in the first quarter, totaling 32 points to score their most points in a first quarter this season. Dallas shot 66.7% from the field, an effort that Ogunbowale led with 10 points on 80% (4-5) shooting that included 2-2 shooting from deep. Three Seattle starters shot 100% in the quarter, Jordan Horston, Ezi Magbedor, and Mercedes Russell, but the Wings held Jewell Loyd to just 30% from the field and three made field foals. Three Seattle players saw time off the bench, while the five Dallas starters played the entire first quarter.
Though Seattle worked to keep an even fight at the start of the second quarter, the Wings used a 9-0 run that included two baskets each from Brown and Howard to extend their already extensive lead to 18 points. Jewell Loyd extended her team’s comeback effort, nailing two baskets from deep in the final 30 seconds to cut Dallas’ lead to 11 points at the half.
After a quiet first quarter, Howard went off for 14 points on 5-5 scoring efforts in the second. Loyd led efforts for Seattle with nine points in the quarter. Following her dominant first quarter, the Storm were able to put the stops on Ogunbowale, holding her to just two points in the second.
The Storm continued their run into the third quarter, recording 10 unanswered points during a streak that saw them bring the game within seven points. The Wings used a 12-2 run to regain a double-digit lead. A late push from Seattle closed out the quarter similar to how they started it. Their effort found them down just 12 points leading into the final quarter.
Dallas used the fourth quarter as an opportunity to pull even farther away from the Storm as they outscored Seattle 24-21 to secure a 15-point win. Kia Nurse provided 14 of the 21 Seattle points, while the Wings spread the wealth between seven players who combined for their 24.
Natasha Howard totaled 23 points on the night, a finish that was fueled by 12 second quarter points. Howard shot 8-12 alongside Teaira McCowan, who recorded 16 points, while the duo each recorded nine rebounds. Satou Sabally finished with 21 points alongside seven rebounds and eight assists.
With her 10th assist in the final minute of play, Arike Ogunbowale earned her second career double-double with 19 points and 10 assists.
In her first start since June 17, Veronica Burton, recipient of tonight’s ‘Drip Chain’, totaled seven points and two steals, while also taking three charges. Her efforts nixed the Storm’s attempt to get comfortable in the fourth quarter and allowed Dallas to run away with the win.
“She always stays ready. It doesn’t matter if she starts, comes off the bench, plays twenty minutes, thirty minutes, or one minute. She continuously works hard,” boasted Trammell. “She’s the one who’s going to come in early and put up those extra shots, stay after practice and put up those extra shots. Even though we had some great things happening, she played great defense, kept the team together on offense, used her voice greatly, stayed positive, and had fun doing it.”
Kalani Brown was efficient off the bench as she recorded 12 points on 5-6 shooting from the floor and 100% shooting from the charity stripe.
Jewell Loyd was Seattle’s enginge all night as she recorded 33 points that included five baskets from deep. Kia Nurse was the solo player to record points off the bench, recording 19 points. Ezi Magbegor finished with a double-double on 15 points and 10 rebounds. Mercedes Russell wrapped up double digit scoring for Seattle with 12 points on 6-6 shooting.
The Wings will wrap up the regular season in Atlanta on Sunday, September 10 at 12 p.m. CT before returning home to host the first round of the 2023 WNBA Playoffs on Friday, September 15 at 8:30pm CT.