By Kayte Ledbetter
In their final game of the regular season, the Dallas Wings (22-18) defeated the Atlanta Dream (19-21), 94-77, Sunday, September 10 at Gateway Center Arena in Atlanta. Dallas’ 22 wins represent the most since they moved to Dallas in 2016 and are the most in franchise history since 2008 when the team also recorded 22 wins while in Detroit.
Dallas finished the regular season with a winning record both at home and on the road, going 11-9 for each.
The Wings and Dream were evenly matched through the first quarter, as neither team shot over 50%, but Dallas grabbed 11 boards and Atlanta grabbed nine. At the end of the first quarter, Naz Hillmon got a shot off with less than a second on the clock to allow Dallas to enter the second quarter with just a two-point lead.
Dallas held Atlanta to just 36.8% shooting in the opening quarter, with only Cheyenne Parker to record more than that one made field goal. Seven of the eight that saw playing time for the Dream found themselves on the board in the first. Arike Ogunbowale and Teaira McCowan each recorded three field goals in the first, while Satou Sabally recorded two.
Every time one team made a basket, the other had a response, making for even play once again in the second quarter. The first time either team was able to record consecutive baskets was after five minutes of play when Natasha Howard recorded a putback layup, followed by Ogunbowale with two made free throws. The baskets allowed for a six-point lead for Dallas, their largest of the game. All it took was Dallas breaking the back-and-forth game for Atlanta to do the same. The Dream took off on the longest run of the game, a 7-0 streak that earned them the lead for the first time since 6:50 in the first quarter. Determined to not allow an Atlanta lead going into the half, Dallas used the final minute and a half to go on a 7-1 run to regain a five-point lead.
Following a matchup against Seattle on September 9 that saw the Wings record 60 points in the paint for the third time this season, 26 of the Wings 44 points in the first half came in the paint. Arike Ogunbowale was the sole Wing to be in double figures at the half, while Allisha Gray was the single Dream with such numbers. Dallas improved to shoot 50% at the half (17-34), while Atlanta shot just 35.3% (12-34).
Kalani Brown shot 3-3 in the half, additionally making both of her attempted free throws for eight points through her six minutes.
To no one’s surprise, Dallas and Atlanta were once again basket for basket at the start of the third quarter, allowing neither Dallas to extend their lead of Atlanta to close the gap. Once again it took until halfway through the quarter for a team to record back-to-back baskets. Awak Kuier, Howard and Brown hit consecutive baskets to extend the lead to ten points, the largest of the afternoon. Just as it occurred in the second quarter, the Wings streak led into an Atlanta run of 6-0 run of their own.
Both Howards were key players in their respective team’s third quarter play. Natasha Howard recorded eight points with perfect 4-4 shooting from the free throw line for Dallas, while Rhyne Howard totaled nine points with her third three of the game for Atlanta.
For the first time in the game, either team was able to come out strong in a quarter, as Dallas used an 13-2 run at the start of the fourth quarter. Ogunbowale worked to extend that lead even farther, sinking consecutive threes within 20 seconds, while Sabally followed with a jumper to give Dallas a 21-point lead with four minutes to play. Despite a late 8-0 Atlanta push, they were unable to make the dent they needed in the Dallas lead, falling by 17 points.
Arike Ogunbowale was the leading scorer of the game with 32 points that included 10-10 shooting from the free throw line. The game marked the 16th time in which Ogunbowale has recorded 30-or-more points and since entering the league in 2019, no player has recorded more 30-plus point games in that time span than Ogunbowale. Ogunbowale led Dallas’ assist efforts with six, contributing to her team leading average.
Teaira McCowan recorded her 13th double-double of the season on 12 points and 10 rebounds. Her 13 double doubles represent the sixth most in the league this season. Natasha Howard finished just one rebound shy of a double-double herself, totaling 15 points and nine rebounds.
Satou Sabally finished with eight points alongside five rebounds and Kalani Brown recorded 10 points and four rebounds off the bench.
Rhyne Howard led scoring for Atlanta with 19 points alongside seven rebounds and four assists. Cheyenne Parker and Allisha Gray followed, both totaling 13 points.
The Wings shot an even 50% (33-66) from the floor and 100% (23-23) from the free throw line for the fourth time this season.
Dallas will return home to host the first round of the 2023 WNBA Playoffs on Friday, September 15 at 8:30pm CT. With today’s victory and Indianapolis’ victory over Minnesota, Atlanta claimed the sixth overall seed and will be the Wings opponent in the first round.