The Dallas Wings defeated the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday, 85-77, making an impressive second-half comeback for their first victory over Connecticut since 2019.
Thursday, they’ll get a chance to do it again — and, in the process, prove they belong among the WNBA’s better teams.
The Wings are currently 5-2, and while none of their victories to this point have been flawless, their most recent one was, at the very least, statement-worthy. Dallas went 0-3 against Connecticut last year, oftentimes looking physically outmatched against a Sun team that would go on to earn the No. 1 overall playoff seed in the WNBA. The Wings lost each of those three games by double figures and failed to reach 60 points in two of them.
Back-to-back 20-point games for the Messy Bun! pic.twitter.com/AQAjQVHHY6— Dallas Wings (@DallasWings) May 25, 2022
Those struggles are now firmly in the past. Behind 20 points from Marina Mabrey, 17 from Allisha Gray and 16 from Arike Ogunbowale, Dallas mounted a stirring second-half comeback, erasing a 13-point Sun lead and cracking perhaps the WNBA’s toughest defense — a rarity not only for the Wings franchise, but for the vast majority of the league. Dallas scored 58 second-half points, the most it has scored in any half thus far in 2022.
Making the feat even more impressive: It came in Connecticut, where the Sun went an astounding 15-1 in 2021.
The season series now shifts to Dallas, and while the Wings have little time to rest on their laurels, they’re also in a position to take a major step towards contender status, should they sustain their effort from Tuesday and beat Connecticut twice in a row.
Beating the Sun at their own game
While the Wings’ big win over the Sun featured the hot second-half shooting typical of most comeback wins, one other statistic stands out, and it’s especially pertinent to this particular matchup: rebounding.
A major reason for the Sun’s success in 2021 was their ability to rebound the basketball, and it’s continuing into 2022. Prior to Tuesday’s game against the Wings, Connecticut led the WNBA in offensive rebounding rate by a country mile at 43.8 percent, masking whatever weaknesses the team may have had in the halfcourt by giving itself opportunity after opportunity on the offensive glass.
The Wings were able to nullify this advantage, though, and actually outrebounded the Sun on both the offensive (13 to 11) and defensive (37 to 33) sides of the glass.
It was a team effort: Isabelle Harrison and Gray both recorded four offensive rebounds apiece, while Kayla Thornton and Satou Sabally each chipped in two. That so many offensive rebounds came from forwards and wing players speaks to the level of activity the Wings played with; it’s a losing proposition to go up against the likes of Jonquel Jones and Alyssa Thomas one-on-one, but the Wings surrounded the Sun bigs, sending two and three players to loose balls and giving themselves plenty of second-chance opportunities with their hustle and athleticism.
More of the same will be in order in their rematch. Players like Harrison and Thornton may be undersized relative to the Sun frontcourt — while, interestingly, the 6-foot-7 Teaira McCowan still has yet to see significant playing time for the Wings — but the results they’ve produced thus far are hard to argue with, especially when paired with the contributions of Gray and Sabally. The Wings may still be searching for their ideal in-game rotation, but another victory over one of the WNBA’s top franchises should add some clarity.