Arlington, TX — The Dallas Wings and Phoenix Mercury both came from different places, yet sat in a similar spot. The Wings came in hot on a two-game win streak after beating Seattle and Los Angeles. The Mercury found themselves on a two-game losing streak, losing by a combined six points total. However, both teams sat with 13 wins eager to climb their way up in the playoff race.
The stars on the court weren’t the only stars in attendance at College Park Center on Thursday night. ABC’s The Bachelorette star Rachel Lindsay, and new fiancé Bryan, made their first public appearance since the finale on Monday in Linsday’s hometown of Dallas. After a whirlwind few days in Los Angeles and New York, Lindsay was excited to show off Dallas to her new fiancé, and take in a Wings game.
“We’re happy to be here representing Dallas, representing the Wings, and hopefully be at more games,” said Lindsay.
As for the stars on the court — Glory Johnson continued to do what Glory Johnson has been doing all season. As part of the youngest team in the WNBA, Johnson’s leadership has been essential, and has been a major impact. In the Wings’ last two games, she’s averaged a formidable double-double for 17 points and 14 rebounds.
In the first quarter alone, she had already tallied nine points and grabbed four rebounds. Johnson ended the first half with 16 points, only one point shy of her season high at the half, and eight rebounds. Her efforts helped Dallas hang onto a 54-49 lead at intermission.
As if the playoff push wasn't a big enough incentive to perform for Johnson, she had a little extra motivation in the stands — perhaps the littlest stars of the day — her twins. This was the first time her twins have been to a game to watch her play, and she delivered stats-wise, unfortunately, her team fell short of the victory.
Where Johnson has stepped up in the midst of the Wings youth, the Mercury have faced their own challenges this season. Diana Taurasi is one of the only returning players on Phoenix from last year playing on Thursday — and tonight, most of the action happened without her on the court, until the fourth quarter.
Newly acquired veteran Monique Currie led the way for the Mercury. Before losing Brittney Griner to injury, Currie averaged only six points per game. She finished the first half alone with 15 points and finished the game with 29 total — only two points shy of her career-high.
“The bigs were setting really good screens, and I was able to get open,” said Currie “Had some good looks and knocked them down, so, you know, once you start hitting early, the basket gets bigger and bigger and bigger. So, being aggressive is something that [Coach] Sandy [Brondello] has been on me about on the offensive end.
I’m just seeking out my shot, being aggressive, and I was able to knock down some shots today.”
Regardless of the challenges, each team has faced — whether adjusting to youth or a whole new team — what do Johnson and Currie both have in common? Veteran leadership.
Currie has been in the league since 2006, while Johnson entered the league in 2012.
However, on a team, like Dallas, that has all five draft picks from this year on the roster, a five-year vet serves the same purpose as an 11-year vet. Both Johnson and Currie have found their roles on their respective teams, and they both succeeded in those roles tonight.
In typical “Glory Johnson” fashion, her and-1 layup with 14.4 seconds left tied the game at 90, and the game would head to overtime that way. Though Dallas ended up on the losing end 101-100, Johnson’s 25 points and 15 rebounds earned her her 11th double-double of the season, and her third consecutive.
But as team sports go, Johnson wasn’t worried about her personal accomplishments as much as she wanted to win.
“We really wanted this game,” said Johnson. “We (did) what we could do. Mo (Monique Currie) wasn't missing any shots. But at the end of the day, I tell my team to keep on going. We’ve got the next one.”
Wings head coach Fred Williams is also focused on the next game.
“Our mindset is still to take one game at a time and position ourselves for that playoff push,” he said. “I thought both teams played a championship game tonight.”
As for what’s next — Dallas heads to Connecticut to take on the Sun who’s currently in third in the playoff race. Phoenix heads home to host Seattle who is sitting in 10th.