Arlington, TX — In one of the last regular-season games for the league, there could not have been a better matchup between two teams. A dangerous New York Liberty team and a confident, newly minted playoff-bound Dallas Wings team faced off for a Sunday afternoon battle made for television.
When you have two teams with talent-filled rosters across the board, you’re bound to be entertained for four quarters. This matchup was no different, and ended in nail-biting fashion with the Liberty overcoming a strong Wings second-half surge to win, 82-81.
“It doesn’t matter who we play, where we play, we're worried about ourselves at the moment, and taking care of business internally. There are some things we need to look at and fix a little bit, but other than that, we’ve won ten in a row, we have a solid foundation, just got to keep winning,” New York Liberty Head Coach Bill Lambier said.
Aside from the fact it was an exciting game from a fan’s perspective, it was a frustrating game to watch as a season long Dallas Wings spectator and as a basketball player. The Dallas Wings team can undoubtedly be dubbed the team that has really showed tremendous growth and passion consistently this season. They also have gained a huge respect throughout the league for their second half efforts. With that being said, their focus as the last few minutes dwindled down in the fourth was so uncanny it was hard to believe.
They made mistakes they shouldn’t be making in the month of September, especially with the playoffs looming around the corner. Small mistakes such as blocking out and making lay-ups. For any Dallas Wings fan, suffering a one-point loss in the last home matchup will haunt them for a long time.
“I’m glad we had a game like this because you know the games on the road are going to be the same way-high intensity,” Dallas Wings guard Karima Christmas-Kelly said. “We have to focus on the little things because that is what kind of kicked us in the foot this game.”
Other than uncanny mistakes, the true difference between the Wings and the Liberty came down to one person: Liberty guard Epiphanny Prince. The seven-year pro scored 20 points to lead all scorers and created havoc on the floor for Dallas.
“My teammates were just finding me and setting good screens and I was able to hit some shots,” Prince said. “We feel like we can score on anybody, we feel like we can get anything we want against anybody, we just want to focus on defense and rebounding.”
As a team who finished their regular season as the number three team in the league, the Liberty has earned a first-round bye for the playoffs, the New York Liberty had a tremendous second half performance. They started the game strong, but the Wings fought back through the second and third quarters. Although, Dallas could not stand the test of time as the final 10 minutes were put on the clock.
“We just have to go out and compete. If you want to get back home, you have to win on the road. That’s the destination right now. I won’t call it the yellow brick road, but you are skipping and hopping to get there,” Dallas Wings Head Coach Fred Williams said.
The Liberty’s ability to stay composed through the highs and the lows really gave them the upper hand as the fourth quarter rolled around. This stands true for not only this single game but also this entire season for New York. After a rocky beginning, they came back to tie their franchise record for consecutive wins with the victory over Dallas.
Even though Dallas wasn’t able to perform to their full potential in today’s matchup, their seventh seed positioning will allow them another opportunity in this year’s playoff battle. Stay tuned to Swish Appeal for all of the playoff coverage coming up.