Game Two Flipped the Script: Dallas Wings Outshine the Connecticut Sun
“Show up and show out…We want a packed house in Dallas.” This was Dallas Wings Head Coach Vickie Johnson’s call to Dallas fans as the team heads back to Texas after stealing game two from the Connecticut Sun. Center Teaira McCowan reiterated the message saying “Pack the house.”
Dallas knew they needed to win to survive and they did just that. Coming out hot in the first quarter, they scored 22 points while the hosts, the Connecticut Sun, struggled to make open shots, scoring only seven first-quarter points. “We had two or three wide-open threes and then missed some shots in the paint,” said Connecticut head coach Curt Miller in his initial post-game comment. “Then offense sometimes affects your defense and We just immediately dug ourselves a hole.”
Down 15 points after the first quarter, the Sun had a better second quarter, scoring 23 points to Dallas’s 24. But Dallas kept their double-digit lead going into the locker room, leaving the court winning 46-30. The Sun were shooting below 35% on field goals and 30% on three-point attempts in contrast to Dallas's 51.4% accuracy on field goals and 42.9% on threes.
The Wings changed their lineup, moving McCowan to an off-the-bench position. This gave a different look, as Isabelle Harrison started to match up against the Sun’s Jonquel Jones. Johnson said that Harrison “brought energy and was able to match Jones” while McCowan off the bench matched Brionna Jones “head-to-head all night.”
Miller commented on this match-up, saying “Bri Jones didn’t play one minute without McCowan on the floor so every time that we put Bri Jones in, McCowan was gonna be on the floor. That was the matchup, that was the decision they made.” McCowan and Brionna Jones both had huge nights for their teams with McCowan scoring 17 points and eight offensive rebounds while on the other end, Jones had 20 points with four rebounds.
Heading out of the break, the Sun struggled once again. From losing marks on defense, allowing open shots for the Wings, and sloppy offensive plays that caused turnovers, it was an improvement from the first quarter but still looked awfully similar. But by the end of the third quarter, it appeared as though the game was slipping out of reach for Connecticut. Down by 29, the Sun needed to rally in the fourth if they wanted the opportunity to play in Texas. That’s exactly what they did.
“Proud of that second unit,” Miller said. “In the fourth quarter, they were almost all a +19 across the board. They played hard, they played downhill, they played fast, they played fearless…We left with some momentum and feeling better about ourselves with that quarter.”
Of the second unit, DiJonai Carrington led the charge with 11 of her 13 points scored in the final quarter. Rookie Nia Clouden helped change the tempo of the game after entering in the fourth quarter. She scored a big bucket with just over two minutes remaining, helping the Sun pull within 15 points during their four-minute 14-0 run. She also recorded three assists during her nine minutes on the court.
This game flipped the script of the one prior to it. Connecticut proved themselves dominant in the opening game of the series, winning 93-68, and leading at most by 20 throughout the game.
“All the statistics that matter to both teams flipped from Game 1 to Game 2,” said Miller. “They were very productive off our turnovers and then we had a hard time keeping them [McCowan] off the offensive glass.”
One stat in particular that stands out is the number of second chance points that Dallas scored on Sunday. They finished the game with 23-second chance points, showing just how dominant they were on the offensive glass. Miller commented on it as one of the Sun’s biggest issues.
“Our first shot defense when you go back and look, statistically not poor, we’ve had better. Now second chance points and now everything is magnified. It just seemed like every time they got an offensive rebound, they scored either a put-back or a wide-open three.” said Miller. “As the game settled in, our first shot defense wasn’t awful. But it was the intangibles because we couldn’t get consecutive stops, we didn’t find ourselves in transition so they had more transition points, more second-chance points. All those intangible stats flipped from game one to game two.”
The Sun and the Wings meet again in Dallas, Texas on Wednesday, August 24, 2022. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN at 9:00 p.m. EST. The winner of this game will play the winner of Game 3 between the reigning champions, the Chicago Sky, and the New York Liberty.