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Dallas Wings Aim for Pivotal Win Against Las Vegas Aces

Dallas Wings

Arike Ogunbowale, No. 24 of the Dallas Wings, will be one of the key offensive forces agains the Las Vegas Aces. (Photo: Dallas Wings Basketball)

ARLINGTON, Texas — Wednesday night’s matchup between the Las Vegas Aces and Dallas Wings is more than just another critical Commissioner’s Cup battle. It will be a fierce duel between the top two leading WNBA scorers in Arike Ogunbowale of the Wings and the Aces’ A’ja Wilson.

Going into the Wings’ eighth game of the 2024 season, Ogunbowale leads all scorers in Points Per Game (PTS) at 26.6 while Wilson trails by just 0.1 PPG. The two Western Conference teams have a close head-to-head history in terms of the all-time series record with the Aces holding the upper hand over the Wings, 39-35.

However, the Wings’ talented roster goes beyond Ogunbowale’s scoring prowess. Monique Billings, a longtime Atlanta Dream forward, joined the Wings roster on May 17 via a salary cap hardship contract.

Billings’ debut against the Chicago Sky offered a glimpse into the sixth season veteran’s hustle and grit. In the Wings’ past six games, Billings has scored 18 or more points on four occasions, including 20 against Atlanta on May 20. Averaging 14 PTS, the UCLA alum is a key playmaker with eight rebounds per game (REB), 2.8 assists and 0.5 steals (STL), she has fit in seamlessly with her new teammates.

In the Wings’ most recent effort on Sunday against the Minnesota Lynx, it was a closely fought battle, their first 2024 Commissioner’s Cup game. However, the Lynx outscored the Wings in the fourth quarter, 26-19, as their Western Conference rivals netted an 87-76 win.

Despite the Wings losing their fourth game of the year, Billings recognized just how closely contested each game is, no matter the team.

“To me, it’s just another game,” Billings said. “I think this league is so competitive…the most competitive league in the world. And so every night, no matter who you play, it’s going to be competitive.”

Nevertheless, Billings knows what she can bring to the table as Natasha Howard remains out due to a broken foot during the Wings’ May 15 season opening win against the Sky.

Dallas Wings

Monique Billings, No. 25 of the Dallas Wings, has been a key contributor since joining the Wings last month. (Photo: Dallas Wings Basketball)

“Energy – I know that’s what I bring,” she said. “I felt like I was a little passive [last Friday, Connecticut Sun]. I could’ve brought some more energy and I think it’s just hustle playing. I didn’t do anything special. I was just getting the boards, teammates finding me in good spots, good positions and just finishing.”

Other key players for the Wings include Maddy Siegrist, last year’s third overall pick in the WNBA Draft, who has been a scoring machine throughout the season. Averaging 13.4 PTS, 4.1 REB, 1.3 AST and 0.9 STL, the sensation from Villanova has scored 12 or more points in five of the first seven games of the Wings’ season.

Teaira McCowan, the team’s center, continually makes crucial rebounds while maximizing her time in the paint as an offensive scorer. McCowan enter Wednesday night’s game averaging 12.3 PTS, 8.1 REB, 1.7 AST and 0.9 STL.

One of the keys for the Wings to challenge the Aces on Wednesday night might be their key contributors on the bench. Latricia Trammel, head coach of the Wings, observed this ahead following the team’s game against the Lynx on Sunday.

“Any coach would ever say, when you come in, you’ve got to contribute,” Trammel said. “You’ve got to study the game while you’re on the bench. When you see your position being played, you kind of evaluate what are they doing well and is working and what doesn’t. When they come in, it doesn’t skip a beat.

“They’ve got the hardest job. Anyone coming off the bench has the hardest job cause we’re expecting them to correct what we don’t see. I just think that’s learning. We’ve got a lot of young ones on that bench and so this is invaluable playing time for them.”

Jacy Sheldon, the Wings’ first round pick in this year’s WNBA Draft, along with center Stephanie Soares and guard Lou Lopez Sénéchal, may play helping hands in their franchise’s 75th matchup against the Aces.

Then there is Sevgi Uzun, a rookie guard from Istanbul, Turkey, who continues to build her confidence with her Wings teammates. Uzun has averaged 7 PTS, 2.7 REB, 5.1 AST and 1.4 STL per game. Most recently, she had her most impressive effort on Sunday against the Lynx, tallying 12 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Certainly, Uzun, like her veteran teammates and the talented rookie class of 2024, recognizes that each game requires a total effort with games so closely together on a weekly basis.

Dallas Wings

Sevgi Uzun, No. 1 of the Dallas Wings, had a career game against the Minnesota Lynx last Sunday. (Photo: Dallas Wings Basketball)

“Every game is physical,” Uzun said. “You get tired. We don’t have a lot of time to get better or recovered. Mentally, we’re ready for it. But sometimes, you can feel tired on the floor. We’re working on it and I think we’re going to be better in the next game.”

The Billings-Uzun tandem add another fascinating layer to the Wings’ depth ahead of their anticipated game against the Aces, the two-time and defending WNBA champions. With Ogunbowale being their top top scoring threat, Billings recognizes how Uzun’s potential is just being realized so early in the season.

“I’m so happy for her,” Billings said. “I just want to tell her to keep being confident. I don’t think she knows how good she is. And it’s just hard when you’re a shooter. Sometimes, you’re going through a lot.

“You have to lead a team, you’re trying to make your own shots, trying to get stops on defense. So, I feel for her. But she makes us so much better. She makes me so much better as a player. I’m expecting another career high next game!”

It will take a total team effort for the Wings to vie for their fourth win of the season. Aside from Wilson, the Aces have scoring threats in Jackie Young, Kelsey Plum, Kelsey Plum, Alysha Clark and Kate Martin.

The battle for the win at the College Park Center may go beyond the usual scoring threats for the Wings and Aces. Nevertheless, it will be a Western Conference showdown on Wednesday night shortly after 7 p.m. CT on NBA TV and Bally Sports Southwest Extra.

Rob Tiongson is a sports writer and editor originally from the Boston area and resides in the Austin, Texas, area. Tiongson has covered motorsports series like NASCAR and INDYCAR since 2008 and NHRA since 2013. Most recently, Tiongson is covering professional basketball, mainly the WNBA, and women's college basketball. While writing and editing for The Podium Finish, Tiongson currently seeks for a long-term sportswriting and sports content creating career. Tiongson enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat. Tiongson is an alum of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and St. Bonaventure University's renowned Jandoli School of Communication with a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism.

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