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Wings update: Dallas hangs on to earn last-second win over Las Vegas Aces

The Dallas Wings earned an impressive victory over the Las Vegas Aces, using a renewed defensive intensity and their usual edge on the offensive glass to defeat the defending WNBA champions.

Las Vegas Aces v Dallas Wings
Wings forward Natasha Howard knocked down a pair of clutch free throws to put Dallas ahead for good in an upset victory over the Las Vegas Aces.
Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

The Dallas Wings (10-9) earned arguably their biggest win of the 2023 WNBA season thus far, defeating the defending champion Las Vegas Aces (17-2) 80-78 after coming back from an 11-point second-half deficit and hanging on during a dramatic final few seconds. Each of the Wings’ five starters scored in double-figures, with Arike Ogunbowale leading the way with 21 points.

It was the Wings’ second game against the Aces in three days, and a close loss against Las Vegas the first time around made Friday’s win that much sweeter. In a way, the Wings finished what they started; Dallas led the Aces by as many as 17 points on Wednesday before faltering down the stretch, but was able to close things out on Friday, stymying a highly potent Las Vegas offense and making just enough key plays on the boards to secure the victory.

The most memorable of those plays was a Natasha Howard offensive rebound and putback attempt with 0.4 seconds remaining in regulation and the game tied. Howard was fouled on the play and sank both free throws, which ended up being the game-winning points. Both Howard and Teaira McCowan got their hands on the ball in the scrum for the offensive rebound, showcasing once again how crucial offensive rebounding is to the Wings’ success; Dallas leads the WNBA in offensive rebounding rate (34.9 percent) and proved why in the game’s final seconds.

Sure enough, the Wings outrebounded the Aces 36 to 25 (10 to five on the offensive glass) and also recorded 13 steals, five of which belonged to Satou Sabally. Hustle plays like these made up for the Aces outscoring the Wings 30 to nine from beyond the 3-point line; Dallas has not shot the ball well as of late, shooting 30 percent or better on 3-pointers just once in the past six games, so the Wings will need to continue to do work in other phases of the game to make up for cold shooting nights.

Also of note was how much Wings head coach Latricia Trammell played her team’s starters. Trammell treated the matchup against the Aces like a playoff game, with each Wings starter playing at least 31 minutes—though that isn’t too anomalous. Entering the weekend, three Wings rank among the WNBA’s top 10 players in minutes played per game, with Ogunbowale leading the entire league at 37.2.

Will this continue? The Wings recently signed veteran guard Odyssey Sims to back up Ogunbowale and Crystal Dangerfield, and Veronica Burton remains in the fold as well, though her minutes have decreased drastically since the first week of the season. We’ll see how the Wings’ minutes distributions hold up as the season progresses and the playoff picture becomes clearer, because Dallas will undoubtedly want to keep its stars fresh for the postseason.

What’s next for the Wings

The Wings will continue their road trip on Tuesday against a Minnesota Lynx team (9-10) that has quietly won seven of its last ten games. Theoretically, the Lynx are a team that Dallas should be able to beat, and in splitting two games with Las Vegas, the Wings have survived a tough start to July. It’s the perfect opportunity for the Wings to build momentum and advance in the WNBA standings.