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Against all odds, Dallas almost rescues season

The Dallas Wings were still hunting for a position in the playoffs. They jumped out to an early lead over New York, and actually survived by winning a close game late. But in the end, they still were eliminated from the playoffs.

Layne Murdoch - Getty Images

ARLINGTON, TX—All odds were stacked against the Dallas Wings on Sunday afternoon, as they played their last home game of the season, against the third best team in the WNBA, the New York Liberty.

With the Liberty at 21-10 for the season and the Wings finally breaking an 11-game losing streak on Friday against San Antonio, any spectator would’ve thought himself wise to place his bet on New York to mercilessly capture the win for this game.

The Wings were battling against their own inconsistency, having their entire roster healthy for only 13 games of the season and two key players, Glory Johnson and Plenette Pierson, sitting the bench for this “make it or break it” game.

How would this impact the final home game of what Dallas’ Skylar Diggins referred to as a “character building” season?

Could they possibly pull off an upset with only nine healthy players left on their roster?

The age-old adage, ‘where there is a will, there is a way’ proved to be the Wings’ motto for this heart-pumping, stomach-flipping game as they fought tirelessly against the Liberty with every second that passed.

However, it would be the last four seconds of the game, which would determine whether or not Dallas’ will of steel, would allow them to defy all odds and end their home season with a win.

In addition to their unshakable nerve and unflinching determination, the Wings also had something else on their side: their fans. The 5,600-person crowd at College Park Center, was on their feet within seconds of the first quarter, as Dallas came out with guns blazing.

Led by the birthday girl Karima Christmas and Diggins, they scored nine of their first 11 possessions and were shooting a whopping 70% of the game. They relied on their speed and intensity on defense, and Christmas’ quick hands, to continuously and consistently steal the ball from New York, which gave them a lead of 17 points at the end of the quarter. By the second quarter, the Liberty had yet to shoot a free throw, as the Wings were 10-0 from the line.

Could it be that the comfort of already clinching the third seed in the playoffs had New York complacent? It would seem so, as Dallas led by 20 in the middle of the second quarter, with two players, Ariel Powers and Christmas, already leading in shooting with double figures each.

Going into halftime, the Wings led the Liberty 19 to 12 in rebounds and shot 56% of the entire opening half- their best of the entire. The pressure was on for New York to come back stronger than ever after the half, but would they?

After just three minutes in the third, it was clear that the Liberty had a fire lit underneath them, as they cut the Wings’ lead down to just 13. One would guess that the ever “calm” Bill Laimbeer had some “motivating” words for his team. Led by Tina Charles and Brittany Boyd, New York kept that flame burning, as they shaved the lead down to only five points.

Charles buried basket after basket, and Carolyn Swords scored to cut the lead down to only three points in the last quarter. The pressure was on for the Wings. It was like Deja vu repeating itself, and probably had many of their fans asking: Is Dallas going to falter late again?

With two minutes left in the game, they were out of timeouts. The Liberty was nipping at their heels and hungry for a win. Sugar Rodgers scored her second three-pointer of the ball game with four seconds left in the game; the Wings still led by three with a score of 81-84, but could they keep it?

All eyes in the arena were on the clock as New York called a timeout with still, only four seconds left in the game. Yet, it proved futile. The Dallas Wings, the underdogs, ran out the clock and let out a proverbial sigh of relief. In those four seconds, they decided their own fate and refused to lose the last game in their own house -- and finished their home season with a huge victory and a 84-81 win.