Dominant Second Quarter Leads Dallas Wings Over Atlanta Dream

By: Jonathan Donville

The Dallas Wings used a 19-0 run and stout defensive effort to beat the Atlanta Dream at College Park Center on Saturday by a score of 85-78, in front of raucous crowd of 5,588 fans.

Dallas was led offensively by Arike Ogunbowale, who finished with a game-high 27 points, the most points she has scored in an season opener over the course of her five years. Ogunbowale played the first 33 minutes of the game and 38 total. Close behind was Satou Sabally, who poured in 25 points on an efficient 7-13 shooting (53.8%). Natasha Howard chipped in 20 points and 10 rebounds, her first double-double in a Wings uniform.

Sabally’s afternoon was highlighted by an acrobatic layup that saw her convert a shot while getting fouled, seemingly flipping the ball up behind her head as she hit the floor.

Head Coach Latricia Trammell said after the game that part of Sabally’s success was posting up more in the second half and finishing around the rim.

“She wants this to be her breakout season and I think she proved that this afternoon,” said Trammell.

“I’ve had some really hard years and this is just … it’s nice to show what I can do,” Sabally said post game. “I’ve never stopped believing in myself, so I am definitely happy and proud of myself right now, but it’s a long season to go and you just have to carry that over.”

Atlanta closed the gap in the fourth quarter, making it as tight as three points in the final minute. With 30 seconds remaining, the Dream missed multiple opportunities around the rim and Sabally collected the rebound, leading to Veronica Burton free throws. Then, on the final full possession for Atlanta, Sabally came up with a block that effectively sealed the game for Dallas with 27.8 seconds remaining.

“I knew she was going to shoot it,” said Sabally. “Once that block hits you just know, it’s a great feeling.”

Dream forward Danielle Robinson sank a jump shot with 1:59 remaining in the first quarter to make it 18-14 for Atlanta. When Atlanta next scored, the score was 33-20 for the Wings. They never regained the lead.

No play signified the run in the second quarter better than when Burton displayed excellent transition defense, defending a driving Dream player without fouling. When Burton dislodged the ball, Howard quickly collected it and immediately led Burton back up the floor with a bounce pass. Then Burton, whose father, Steve Burton, played quarterback at Northwestern, threw a football style pass nearly the length of the court to Ogunbowale, who finished the layup.

— Dallas Wings (@DallasWings) May 20, 2023

Ogunbowale was the star of the first half, finishing with 20 points in the first 20 minutes. She was particularly successful moving to her left and hitting pull up jump shots. One of her three-pointers finished off the 19-point run which turned the tide of the game for Dallas, much to the delight of the Wings fans.

Dallas repeatedly leaned on their defense. During one sequence in the third quarter, the score had gotten to a nine-point difference. Burton once again came up with a steal and assist, which led to a Howard transition layup. Then Ogunbowale came up with a steal on the next possession and led the fast break which ended in Sabally free throws. A few minutes later, after missing a layup and looking for a foul call, Ogunbowale hustled back, stole the ball again, and finished on the breakaway.

Dallas held the Dream to 12 total points in the second quarter and 27% shooting in the first half. For the game, Atlanta shot just 35% from the floor and 28% from three.

The Dream were led offensively by reigning rookie of the year Rhyne Howard, who kept Atlanta in the game early. Howard connected three times from behind the three-point line in the first quarter alone and finished with 20 points, but was guarded well by Sabally in the fourth quarter. In her return to CPC, former Dallas guard Allisha Gray finished with 10 points.

Teaira McCowan left the contest in the third quarter after a collision with teammate Howard. Coach Trammell said after the game that the team would know more in the coming days.

Dallas goes on the road next to play the Seattle Storm on Friday May 26.