By Kayte Ledbetter
The Dallas Wings (20-18) fell, 94-93, to the New York Liberty (31-7) on Tuesday night at College Park Center following a game that saw 16 lead changes and 19 ties.
Satou Sabally made her presence known early, accounting for all six of Dallas’ points in the first two minutes. Despite the Liberty shooting 57.5% (11-19) in the first quarter, Dallas never allowed New York to get comfortable and allowed them to find their way to the free throw line only one time, a key they used to outscore the Liberty 30-26 through the quarter.
At the conclusion of the first quarter both Sabally and Arike Ogunbowale had reached double figures, with Sabally shooting 5-5 from the field and 3-3 from the charity stripe to total 13 points and Ogunbowale shooting 4-5 with three baskets from deep for 11 points. As a team, the Wings shot 61.1% (11-18) in the quarter. Dallas forced five turnovers in the first, an effort led by Crystal Dangerfield who provided three steals.
Breanna Stewart joined the Dallas duo in double figures with 10 points, while Courtney Vandersloot was knocking on the door, just one point shy with nine. The pair each shot 4-5 in the quarter, while Vandersloot also dished four assists.
After the Liberty brought the game within one point, Dallas used a timeout as an opportunity to regroup and came out strong on a 10-2 run, forcing New York to use a timeout of their own. Both teams seemed to find timeouts as a chance to regroup, as New York embarked on a 7-0 run following the break, cutting their deficit to just a single point once again. After not having the opportunity to take advantage of free throws in the first quarter, the second quarter proved a different story for the Liberty. New York was able to knot the game at 51 points each with 10 seconds remaining, setting them up to take a 53-51 lead in the final seconds.
The second quarter saw all five starters on both teams produce offensively, with each recording at least two points. Betnijah Laney totaled nine points on 3-3 shooting to lead scoring for the Liberty in the quarter, while Natasha Howard, Ogunbowale, Dangerfield and Kalani Brown each provide four points.
Each team was shooting 37.5% from three at the half, though New York (6-16) made twice as many of Dallas’ (3-8) from deep.
The Liberty used a 10-2 run to close out the third quarter following an effort that saw the Wings gain the lead on multiple occasions. The Liberty owe their third quarter success to Stewart, who recorded more than half of New York’s points (14/23) on 6-9 (66.7%) shooting.
The Wings began the fourth quarter outscoring the Liberty 8-3 to tie the game. The run saw scoring from McCowan, Ogunbowale and Sabally, including two in a row by the Unicorn that featured an almost full court pass from Ogunbowale to set up her second basket. Once again, a well-timed timeout proved an asset to the team who called it. After Dallas found themselves within just two points of New York, a timeout provided enough time to reenergize and record consecutive baskets to gain the lead. Through the conclusion of the quarters, the teams seemed unable to pull ahead and maintain a lead, contributing to the six fourth quarter lead changes and eight ties. Down one point with just 23 seconds on the clock, the Wings needed to cash in on their final possession, a feat they fell just short of.
The is no denying the Wings left it all on the floor tonight. They held New York to one of their worst scoring games from the three-point range and only allowed four points off the bench through their collective 45:10 minutes on the floor. Dallas won the rebounding battle 37-32, and outscored the Liberty, 60-46, in the paint and 13-7 in fast break points.
Two players from both the Wings and Liberty recorded a double-double. Natasha Howard totaled 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Teaira McCowan recorded 11 points and 12 rebounds off the bench. For the Liberty, Breanna Stewart totaled 10 rebounds alongside her 40 points and Courtney Vandersloot recorded 16 points and 10 assists.
Tonight, represented the 13th time two Wings players have recorded a double-double in the same game and 10th time two Liberty players have recorded a double-double in the same game, representing the top two teams in the league with such an occurrence this season.
Stewart’s 40 points represent her 4th time this season with 40+ points. Betnijah Laney wrapped up the trio for Liberty that finished in double figures, totaling 22 points on the night.
Five Wings finished in double digits with Satou Sabally leading the effort with 27 points. Arike Ogunbowale followed with 19 points, alongside Crystal Dangerfield who recorded 12 points as well as a career-high five steals. She finished with five assists, same as Howard and Ogunbowale.
The Wings will wrap up regular season home play on Friday, September 8 at 7 p.m. CT against the Seattle Storm with live coverage on ION.