Hoping to continue their winning ways, the Dallas Wings square off with the Phoenix Mercury. Playing a much bigger team Coach Brian Agler made changes to the last games starting 5. Going for a much bigger lineup Dallas shortest starter stood 6 feet tall.
From the opening tip, Dallas outclassed Phoenix in every way. Imani McGee-Stafford’s 6-7 presence was felt on both ends of the ball. She’d break Dallas scoring cap with back-to-back buckets and stifle Brittany Griner in the post.
With the help of the four other starters, Allisha Gray, Theresa Plaisance, Kaela Davis, and Kayla Thornton the Wings were able to close out the first quarter with a three-point lead. Each had their presence felt in the box score all but three of the team’s rebounds and scoring all of their points. Once that group sat down to rest the Mercury were able to make a 6-0 run to end the quarter.
Entering the second quarter Dallas lost their offensive fire. Still aggressive, they’d miss two threes just enough for Pheonix to make a run luckily their defensive intensity stayed intact as they weathered the Mercury’s attempts to come back. Over the final three minutes of the second quarter, Dallas’s offense caught up to their defense. Leaking out for easy buckets and attacking the rim lead to their 6 point halftime lead.
Dallas continued their superb play through the third quarter. Outscoring Pheonix 16-12 as Kayla Thornton scores 6 of her game-high 18 points.
The Wings received their first taste of diversity to close the game out. But this Dallas team wouldn’t let this game fall through their fingers. Once faced with a 12-4 run they’d answer back with a 9-0 run. Dallas closed out pride night 69-54, their best win of this early season.
This win came on the backs of Kayla Thornton and bigs Theresa Plaisance, McGee-Stafford, and Azura Stevens. Their display of defense limited one of the league’s best inside-outside combinations in Brittney Griner and DeWanna Bonner. Their joint 5-27 shooting was their worse output of the season.
McGee-Stafford smothered Griner from the jump. Walling her up in the post and getting under her to deter shots even though at times the tactic was questionable but nonetheless effective. Stevens patrolled the paint earning a season-high 4 blocks, 3 in momentum-driven moments. Plaisance reached her first double-double since her ACL injury all against one of the best rebounding teams in the W.
Kayla Thornton deserves praise of her own. The Swiss Army knife looked like one of the best two-way players on the verge of a breakout. Not only did she shut down one of the league’s best players (2-12) who had a clear size advantage over her but she also poured in a near 20 point game. Thornton picked a great day to stand out, and it showed all over the court.
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