If there were any chemistry questions of about the new look Dallas Wings your answer could be found in warm-ups. As the 15 women, three more than allotted on a WNBA roster went through their drills there were smiles all around. Now, will that translate to the court we will find out shortly?
The starters for tonight, Tayler Hill, Kaela Davis, Allisha Gray, Kayla Thornton, and Glory Johnson would take 3+ minutes to crack the open the scoring lid. Davis’ corner three gave Dallas a lead they wouldn’t relinquish until the ensuing play.
Midway through the quarter, Dallas would make their first substitution welcoming Brooke McCarty-Williams and Azura Stevens who received roaring cheers from the crowd. Stevens would make an immediate impact using her long arms to swat a Fever shot and using a great move in the post to score.
With 3:50 left on the clock the Wings fan had the pleasure to greet 1 of their 3 new members, Isabelle Harrison.
Early in the second quarter, it was all about the three ball. Theresa Plaisance, newcomer Imani McGee-Stafford, Brooke McCarty Williams, and Kayla Thornton three-point attempts would all find the bottom of the net. A flurry of offensive fouls would slow the game.
The third quarter wasn’t pretty for the Wings. Their 14 point lead would wash away like a snap of a finger. They’d score 11 points 8 of which came from newcomers McCarty Williams and Kennedy Burke.
The Fever however more than doubled their offensive output scoring 29 points in the quarter. Dallas didn’t have a lapse on the defensive side of the basketball the Fever had an eruption. The Wings made the eight rotations, closed out to shooters, fought for loose balls but couldn’t stop the duo of Kelsey Mitchell and Paris Kea.
Now facing a 4 point deficit the Wings have a renewed energy. It’s obvious in the way the players move as they fight their way to a win. The energy is so palpable that fans are now fully invested. They screamed and clawed their way to the lead with as much fervor as Allisha Gray used to steal the ball and make the assist that regained the Dallas lead.
But that would all be for not as the Wings would go ice cold for the rest of the game. Megan Gustafson would miss her two free throws the following possession, Thornton, Burke, and Gray would miss three ball attempts soon thereafter. The Indiana Fever, however, wouldn’t miss a free throw as they shot their way to a 71-66 victory.
The wings expressed lows and highs in extreme ways. In the first half, they looked like an offensive juggernaut firing on all cylinders. The only place they struggled to score is the charity stripe. There was energy, there was an edge to them. They neutralized their opponents’ offense, overcame their turnover struggles, and ran an offensive set any coach would be proud of.
The second half was the complete opposite. They looked cold, slow, and lethargic. In spurts, they looked like their first half counterpart but not enough to overcome what they were facing. Coach Brian Agler saw many of those same issues saying, “I thought we were playing pretty well there for the first 4 or 5 minutes and then a series of miscues defensively, turnovers on offense, two technical fouls, and they made some shots.” Their lead seemed to lull them into a false sense of security and when the other team swung for the fences they were sleeping in left field.