WNBA: Shorthanded Wings score big wins over Chicago and Las Vegas

At the start of August, the Dallas Wings were among a handful of WNBA teams competing for the final three playoff seeds. While Chicago, Las Vegas, Connecticut, Seattle and Washington all had records well above .500 and had already clinched a playoff appearance or were close to doing so, the Wings still had a lot of work to do. do, sitting at 13-16 with little separation between them, Atlanta, Phoenix and New York.

A week and several huge wins later, the Wings emerged from that pack as the undisputed favorite to clinch a playoff berth, moving to 15-16 with five games left in their regular-season schedule. Dallas beat defending WNBA champion and current No. 1 seed Chicago Sky on the road, 84-78, on Tuesday, then came home and beat No. 2 seed Las Vegas Aces 82-80 two days later.

As if the level of competition wasn’t tough enough, the Wings also found themselves without their top scorer and ball handler. Guard Arike Ogunbowale (19.9 points and 3.7 assists per game) is suffering from an ankle injury and was ruled out in the hours leading up to Dallas’ game in Chicago, forcing the Wings to make big moves last minute adjustments in his absence.

Rookie guard Veronica Burton (right) has started the Dallas Wings’ last two games and has shown her worth as a ball handler and defenseman.
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Chief among these adjustments: Give the ball to Teaira McCowan. The 6’7 center had already warmed up in previous games and was magnificent against Chicago and Las Vegas, totaling 41 points and 28 rebounds in wins.

Dallas’ guard game also deserves praise. Rookie Veronica Burton made her first-ever WNBA start against Chicago and played admirably, racking up eight points, nine assists and three steals in front of a supportive crowd of her former coaches and Northwestern fans.

Against the aces, it was Tyasha Harris’ turn to impress. The third-year guard, who has spent most of the season competing with Burton for playing time, has posted a hugely effective stat line, scoring 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting and registering six assists to one. turnover.

Granted, none of the Wings’ victories over the WNBA’s top two seeds were flawless, but given that Dallas was down on its two franchise cornerstones in Ogunbowale and Satou Sabally (ankle), they were nonetheless impressive. They also came at a crucial time in the Wings schedule; they have five games to play, and each will face a team that is currently below Dallas in the standings, giving the Wings a golden opportunity to officially clinch a playoff spot, put a little more distance between themselves and their competition and to end their regular season on a high note in one fell swoop. With Ogunbowale likely for Dallas’ next game against the Indiana Fever, we’ll see if the Wings can keep rolling and finish strong against teams they should, in theory, beat.

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