ARLINGTON – A tale of two halves defined the final preseason game for the Dallas Wings as they took a 71-66 defeat to the Indiana Fever (3-0).
After beginning the game 0-for-3 and held scoreless for the first 2:30 minutes of the contest, Wings Guard Kaela Davis finally got the ball rolling with a smooth three-point bucket that gave them a 3-2 advantage. The low-scoring back-and-forth affair continued throughout the majority of the first quarter until rookie Brooke McCarty-Williams was able to extend the Wings’ lead to 18-14.
The Wings’ offense continued to flourish as they scored the first seven points of the second quarter to strengthen their lead to 25-14. Williams, who was scoreless in their previous game, established herself early in the first half hitting her first three shots. She had two of her team’s 10 first-half assists, which contributed to nine different scorers gracing the box score for Dallas during the first half. Dallas carried a 39-27 advantage into halftime and appeared to be in complete control of the game.
Much of the first half telegraphed how the first few minutes of the third quarter would play out. Their first four baskets were scored by four different players and allowed them to maintain a 14-point lead over Fever. But frustrations began to mount when a near two-minute scoring drought and two technical fouls on the Wings began shifting momentum back towards Indiana.
With 5:11 remaining in the third quarter, the Wings sat up 48-37. A little over two minutes later that lead was cut to 50-44 and by the end of the quarter the Wings trailed 56-52.
“I thought we were playing pretty well for the first four or five minutes there,” Head Coach Brian Agler said. “A series of miscues, turnovers on offense, technical fouls happened. And [Indiana] made some shots. Kelsey Mitchell got it going a bit. She’s a good player. But overall on the day I thought we had some good things happen. Had some really good defensive spurts for a while.”
After a 19-4 run from Indiana completely shifted the tides of the ball game, the Wings trailed for the first time since the five-minute mark in the first quarter. However, though down, the Wings were far from out. And stout defense from Dallas allowed them to tie the game back up at 60-a-piece with 5:11 left in the game.
A three-pointer and a tough layup from Indiana put the Fever back up 5 with 4:30 left to go. But two big free throws from Megan Gustafon and a breakaway layup off of a steal from Kennedy Burke trimmed the lead to one. The eventual 6-0 run was capped off by a Kayla Thorton layup off of a dime from Gray.
But in the end, Indiana responded to the brief surge with a 6-0 run off their own to bring the Wings to 1-2 for the preseason.
“I feel really good [about our team’s chemistry],” Agler said. “We learned a lot about our team. A lot of people fighting for positions. We’re going to keep moving forward…I think we’ve laid a pretty good foundation for our defense. We have to add some stuff offensively, but I like the direction we’re going. We’re just scratching the surface.”
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