Balanced scoring from its starters and torrid shooting through the first three quarters lifted Dallas to a 106-91 victory over the visiting Seattle Storm on Friday in Arlington, Texas, allowing the Wings to clinch the fourth seed and home-court advantage in the opening round of the WNBA playoffs.
The Wings (21-18) earned their playoff position on their third try and in the penultimate game of the regular season, in the process snapping a two-game losing streak and making their final contest at Atlanta meaningful only to the Dream.
Dallas’ victory overshadowed a 33-point performance by the Storm’s Jewell Loyd, who now has 911 points for the season, passing the Liberty’s Breanna Stewart (910) for most points all time for a single year and for this season. Both players have a game remaining in the regular season.
Natasha Howard led Dallas with 23 points and nine rebounds, with Satou Sabally adding 21 points, eight assists and seven boards. Arike Ogunbowale amassed 19 points and 10 assists and Teiara McCowan scored 16 points with nine rebounds.
Kia Nurse added 19 points off the bench for the Storm (11-28), who have already been eliminated from the postseason. Ezi Magbegor racked up 15 points and nine rebounds and Mercedes Russell hit for 12 points in the loss.
Dallas trailed early on but roared to the front via a 10-2 run that was capped by a free throw by Sabally that granted the Wings a 17-10 advantage. That lead grew to 32-20 by the end of the period after Dallas scored the final six points of the quarter.
The Storm cut their deficit to nine points on three occasions in the second period before Dallas answered, going up 51-33 on a layup by Kalani Brown with 2:59 to play in the first half. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Loyd in the final 32 seconds of the period brought Seattle to within 56-45 at the break.
Howard paced the Wings with 16 points before halftime, with McCowan and Ogunbowale adding 12 each. Dallas shot 64.9 percent from the floor in the half.
Loyd led all scorers with 18 points in the half, taking 19 shots over the first 20 minutes, two more than the rest of her teammates combined.
Dallas pushed its lead to as many as 18 points late in the third quarter but Seattle fought back to within 82-70 heading into the final quarter.