Wings snap three-game losing streak, head into All-Star break with much-needed momentum

ARLINGTON — After dropping three straight games and four of their last five, the Wings finally found a way to get back in the win column.

The Wings improved to 10-12 after an 82-71 win over the Connecticut Sun in their final game before the All-Star break, getting a much-needed victory as the playoff race heats up before the season’s second half.

Heading into the matchup, the Wings knew they would have to control the boards if they wanted to come away with the win against the third-best team in the league, and they did exactly that. Dallas outrebounded the Sun 34-29, including 11-4 on the offensive glass. It also shot 45% from the field with five players scoring in double-digits.

“It was very important, just for the mindset,” head coach Vickie Johnson said. “Also to enjoy our break as well. We still have a lot of work to do, but this is a good step towards something that we can build on.”

The win marked the end of a slump that started following injuries to forward Satou Sabally and guard Allisha Gray. Sabally missed seven games with a knee injury, and Gray missed two with an ankle injury. Sabally watched her team lose four games while she was sidelined and was eager to return to help steer it back on course.

“I would say just our energy, especially in the third quarter,” Sabally said of what was lacking. “We have such a talented team. But it’s just our spacing sometimes and the little things.”

Dallas Wings forward Satou Sabally (0) shoots a 3-pointer during the first quarter at the...
Dallas Wings forward Satou Sabally (0) shoots a 3-pointer during the first quarter at the UTA’s College Park Center in Arlington on Tuesday, July 5, 2022.(Lola Gomez / Staff Photographer)

The Wings, who have struggled in the third quarter of late, were especially strong in those 10 minutes Tuesday night. They outscored the Sun 22-16 in the period to extend their lead to nine heading into the fourth, when they were able to seal the 11-point win.

Sabally and Gray initially faced some adversity in their return to the court, which was seen against the Los Angeles Sparks, but both played much more like themselves against Connecticut. Sabally finished with 14 points and three rebounds in just 19 minutes while Gray had 12 points, eight rebounds and three assists.

Now that they’ve broken the three-game streak, the Wings have a prime opportunity to turn their season around and resume the strong play they demonstrated in the season’s early weeks. While the battle for playoff spots is especially tight — and the Wings occupy the eighth position — Dallas was able to maintain its spot despite its poor performance of late because of similar losing streaks by New York and Phoenix.

“You have [the playoffs] in the back of your mind, always,” guard Marina Mabrey said. “That’s what people are playing for. But at the end of the day, if that’s the only thing that you’re focused on. That’s not going to help you. If you just come in, and you want to get better every single game, and you do the things that Dallas does and go out there and try to win games one at a time, then you end up where you want to be.”

For now, the Wings will use their much-needed, seven-day break to regroup and try to build on the momentum established Tuesday to climb the league standings ahead of the playoffs.

“You go tune some things up as a player,” Mabrey added. “Maybe you’ve been missing shots, so you get in the gym for a little bit. You have your own time to change your perspective, change your mind-set and come back and bring more positivity and energy to the team.”

“Even with our record, we still have a good chance for whatever we want,” guard Arike Ogunbowale said. “It’s really up to us — just playing our game.”

Dallas Wings guard Arike Ogunbowale (24) goes for a shot over Connecticut Sun guard Natisha...

1/28Dallas Wings guard Arike Ogunbowale (24) goes for a shot over Connecticut Sun guard Natisha Hiedeman (2) during the first quarter at the UTA’s College Park Center in Arlington on Tuesday, July 5, 2022.(Lola Gomez / Staff Photographer)

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