Sky close out two-game road trip with 83-74 win over Wings, first under new coach Teresa Weatherspoon

Sky close out two-game road trip with 83-74 win over Wings, first under new coach Teresa Weatherspoon
Sky close out two-game road trip with 83-74 win over Wings, first under new coach Teresa Weatherspoon

ARLINGTON, Texas — After falling apart in the closing minutes of their season-opening loss, the Sky flipped the script Saturday and overcame an eight-point deficit to beat those same Wings 83-74.

“[The biggest difference] was a desire to win,” coach Teresa Weatherspoon said. “We were hungry to get it done, and we improved ourselves in the second half.”

Wings coach Latricia Trammell spoke all week about needing to find extra personnel for this game. After forward Natasha Howard fractured her foot in the opener Wednesday, the Wings had fewer than 10 players available before signing forward Monique Billings to a hardship contract.

“Do you want to play?” Trammell jokingly asked media members Friday.

It seemed like the Wings had all they needed to get another victory, but they hit a wall in the fourth quarter. The Sky outscored them 28-11. Arike Ogunbowale accounted for all but two of Dallas’ 11 points.

After going 2-for-8 from the free-throw line in the first game, Sky rookie Angel Reese vowed to make amends. Reese did, going 5-for-7 from the foul line, but she only shot 3-for-9 from the field. Her first field goal was a reverse layup in the fourth quarter. She sat for much of the second and third quarters after getting into foul trouble.

Reese had 11 points, nine rebounds and two assists. Diamond DeShields led the Sky with 16 points, playing 24 minutes, up from the 18 she logged Wednesday. Six Sky players scored in double figures.

Weatherspoon returned to her starting lineup at the beginning of the fourth quarter after being forced into other rotations with Reese and Elizabeth Williams saddled with four fouls apiece. Marina Mabrey opened the quarter with a three-pointer to cut the Sky’s deficit to five.

“We knew we had to come out swinging to start the fourth,” DeShields said. “Anytime ‘Money’ Mabrey gets to knock one down, it makes the whole team feel good.”

Williams had a chance to tie the game by converting a three-point opportunity with just under seven minutes left. But she missed the free throw, which resulted in a three-point opportunity for Reese, who made the free throw to put the Sky up by two.

Ogunbowale lit up the Sky’s backcourt players, getting them to bite on his shot fake all night. She had a game-high 35 points. After a three-pointer cut the Wings’ deficit to three, Trammell signaled for the crowd to get louder.

“She’s a volume shooter,” DeShields said. “She’s going to get them up. We just tried to focus on showing hand and making sure every shot was answered. All you can do is keep it the best you can and make it as difficult as possible.

“We live with the outcome as long as we defend the right way.”

A block by Williams, her fifth, with less than a minute to play was the final blow, sending Wings fans to the exits. She had 12 points and 10 rebounds.

There are still major areas of concern for the Sky, starting with their 19 turnovers. Another area that needs attention is their rebounding. They gave up 20 points on second-chance opportunities.

“We’re getting to know one another,” Weatherspoon said. “They were doing exactly what was asked of them, maybe trying to share a little bit too much. “I was comfortable with what they were trying to do, knowing that those are things we can correct.”

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