Rookie Arike Ogunbowale has typified the play of the Dallas Wings thus far: Inconsistency with flashes of promise. Coming off a victory over the league’s best team, the Wings again bid for their first road win of 2019 when they face the New York Liberty on Friday night.
Ogunbowale was a key contributor to Dallas’ 74-73 victory over Connecticut on Wednesday night, finishing with 23 points and banking a key 3-pointer with 1:23 left to give the Wings (3-6) a 72-70 lead. She became the first Wings rookie to finish with back-to-back 20-point games since 2014, but what pleased coach Brian Agler more was her efficiency.
After needing 26 shots to score 25 points in a loss to Las Vegas, Ogunbowale was 10 of 17 from the field versus the Sun. The fifth overall pick is averaging 12.9 points while shooting 34.8 percent thus far.
“That’s what we’re looking for,” Agler told the Dallas Morning News. “Good players and great players, they don’t shoot 40 percent or below. They’re usually every other game they’re 50 percent or above. So that’s what we’re looking for.”
Isabelle Harrison added 13 points and six rebounds off the bench as the Wings now look to end an 11-game road losing that dates to a 92-77 win over the Los Angeles Sparks on July 12. It also does not include their 101-83 first-round playoff loss at Phoenix.
“We have it in us. We have a really good defensive team and we can score and when we make sure that works to our benefit, we’re unstoppable.” Harrison said. “But we’ve really got to carry this energy, momentum, focus and dedication on the road.”
The Wings continue to play without starting guard Skylar Diggins, who is out on maternity leave, and forward Glory Johnson, who is representing Montenegro at the EuroBasket tournament.
New York (3-7) has also dealt with inconsistency and is looking to avoid a third consecutive loss. The Liberty’s defensive shortcomings were again evident in a 92-83 loss at Minnesota on Saturday that marked the fourth consecutive game they have allowed 90 or more points.
Kia Nurse scored 24 points and Tina Charles added 22, but New York allowed Minnesota to shoot 51.6 percent and failed to recover from being outscored 28-14 in the third quarter. The Liberty are last in the league in scoring defense at 86.7 points allowed per game – 5.4 points worse than the next-closest team. They are also last in defensive field goal percentage (44.8).
Nurse has averaged 20.4 points in her last five games, and her 16.1 per game trails only Charles (18.1). The Liberty are also missing players who are competing in the EuroBasket tournament, most notably starting forward and leading rebounder Amanda Zahui B. Bria Hartley, Marine Johannes and Kiah Stokes are also in Serbia.
Dallas took two of three games between the teams and split its two visits to New York. The last matchup saw the since-departed Liz Cambage set a WNBA single-game record with 53 points to power the Wings to a 104-87 victory.
(Azura Stevens photo courtesy Dallas Wings official Twitter account)