By Kayte Ledbetter
The Dallas Wings (2-0) defeated the Atlanta Dream (0-2), 101-74, Tuesday, September 19 at College Park Center to sweep the Dream in the first round in the WNBA Playoffs. With the win, Dallas will advance to the second round of playoffs, where they will begin a best-of-five series against the Las Vegas Aces on Sunday, September 24. The series win represents Dallas’ first since 2009.
The 27-point win is the largest postseason margin of victory in Wings franchise history, breaking the mark set by the Detroit Shock in 2006, and represents the Wings franchise’s first 100-point postseason game since 2007.
It took both teams until the 3:36 mark in the first quarter to score consecutive baskets. The Atlanta advantage allowed them to gain a three-point lead, the largest of the game at that point. Quickly after, Satou Sabally knocked down a three to tie the game and Teaira McCowan followed with a layup to mark Dallas’ first back-to-back backets.
After a 19-point first quarter performance by Rhyne Howard in game one last Friday, the Wings held her to just six points tonight in the first quarter. Allisha Gray led the scoring in the first quarter for Atlanta with nine points, followed by Cheyenne Parker who totaled seven.
Crystal Dangerfield found her groove in the first quarter, totaling six points alongside two rebounds, one steal and one assist. Sabally recorded seven points on two baskets and perfect 2-2 shooting from the free throw line. Dallas grabbed seven offensive boards in the first quarter alone, an effort led by Teaira McCowan and Natasha Howard who had two each. Howard grabbed a total of five rebounds in the first quarter.
Awak Kuier sunk her first career playoff three pointer during a Wings’ 9-2 run, which saw Kuier record five points herself. Dallas continued to score in streaks as their second substantial run came as a 13-1 burst that earned Dallas a 17-point lead. Kuier finished off the strong second quarter for the Wings with her seventh point of the quarter. Arike Ogunbowale found herself playing a part in five straight possessions, scoring on three and assisting on two.
Each Dallas starter registered a point in the second, with Ogunbowale leading the effort with nine points on 3-4 shooting alongside Kuier who totaled seven points in the quarter. On top of her scoring, Ogunbowale dished out three assists.
During an stretch that saw the Wings outscore the Dream 29-10, Dallas collectively shot 66.7% (12-18) in the quarter, and held Atlanta to just a quarter the amount of baskets (4-14, 28.6%).
Rhyne Howard contributed two of the Dream’s four field goals in the quarter, while Allisha Gray and Danielle Robinson accounted for the other two. Dallas took advantage of five Atlanta turnovers in the quarter, a mistake they were able to capitalize on as they only lost control of the ball once.
Coming out of the half, Atlanta knew what they had to do: defend. They did just that for the first three minutes, holding Dallas to just two points while they scored seven points. Dallas found a way to rally through the defense, breaking away on a 9-2 run that gained them a 20-point lead and forced an Atlanta timeout. The teams were even throughout the remainder of the quarter, allowing Dallas to maintain their 20-point lead into the fourth quarter.
Dallas had four blocks in the third quarter alone. Teaira McCowan contributed two blocks alongside six rebounds and six points. Odyssey Sims also recorded six points in the quarter off the bench for Dallas.
The back-and -forth in the fourth quarter was even until Dallas pulled ahead to greatly extend their lead in the final few minutes. The Dallas bench came in to conclude the game, recording every Wings basket in the final five minutes. They combined for their final 16 points, an effort led by Kalani Brown, who finished the evening with 12 points on 5-5 shooting from the field.
The Wings are the first team in WNBA Playoff history to have seven players score in double figures.
Teaira McCowan recorded her second straight playoff double-double, finishing with 12 points and 16 rebounds. With her 16 rebounds, she recorded the second most rebounds in Wings franchise playoff history (23, Cheryl Ford, 2006). McCowan joins Sylvia Fowles (2017 vs. LA) as the second player to have 30+ rebounds over a two-game plan in a series in WNBA Playoff history.
Arike Ogunbowale led the scoring efforts for the Wings, finishing with 20 points accompanied by a team leading seven assists. Satou Sabally totaled 13 points. Kuier’s 6-8 shooting for 13 points led the bench efforts and contributed to her team leading +/- of 22. She additionally provided a team leading three blocks.
Crystal Dangerfield finished with 11 points, while Natasha Howard, in her 50thcareer playoff game, recorded 10 points and nine rebounds.
Once again, 2022 WNBA Rookie of the Year, Rhyne Howard, led the Dream with 21 points. She totaled three baskets from beyond the arc, while Cheyenne Parker and Allisha Gray finished with two each. Gray totaled 19 points and Parker recorded 15.
Dallas will begin Round 2 of the 2023 WNBA Playoffs in Las Vegas at Michelob ULTRA Arena on Sunday, September 24 at 4 p.m CT. Live coverage will be available on ESPN2.