ARLINGTON, Texas — It’s a familiar sight during Dallas Wings games. Arike Ogunbowale makes a steal, streaks to the end of the court and pulls up at the 3-point line, hoping to catch the defense off guard with a quick steal. Sometimes, Ogunbowale finds Marina Mabrey, who likes to head to the left side of the floor to shoot.
When the Wings’ 3-pointers are falling, they are a blast to watch. Unsurprisingly, their 3-point shooting percentage is nearly 10 points higher in wins (39.5%) than in losses (30.7%) this season. And in their victories, they also average the second-most 3s in the WNBA with 10.0, second only to the New York Liberty’s 12.2.
Shooting 3s is fun for the players, too.
“I think it's something about when we are both hitting 3s, it's just, where do you go from here?” Mabrey said. “You now have to pick up at half court on two people. And now the floor just completely opens up for everyone else. And then our teammates are awesome at that.
“So they get back, they get to the basket, everybody gets going. And to guard two players that shoot 3s at that high volume (and) that easily off the bounce, off transition, no bounce — doesn't matter. That's tough to guard because you have to get so close, and it's just so much space to operate.”
Ogunbowale’s ability to shoot 3s helped her earn a spot in the 3-point contest during WNBA All-Star Weekend. She’s third in the league in 3-pointers with 68. Allisha Gray (41) and Mabrey (40) are 12th and 13th, respectively.
Statistically, the Wings do better not just when they’re making more 3s but also when they’re attempting more shots beyond the arc. But when they go cold, they really go cold.
During a three-game losing streak before the All-Star break, Dallas went 15-for-56 from the 3-point line. That’s why head coach Vickie Johnson wants to make sure her team is developing a game in the paint. Isabelle Harrison, Teaira McCowan and Kayla Thornton should give the Wings a strong, big presence inside.
“One thing I was preaching is that we run sets. We want to play inside, outside,” Johnson said after Dallas’ June 25 loss to the Phoenix Mercury. “Shoot the 3, live by the 3, die by the 3. We don't need to do that because inside we got the advantage.”
It’s all a part of a larger search for consistency with the Wings as they work to put their talented pieces together every night. They're 10-13 and in eighth place for the final playoff spot. But to become a team that does more than just make the postseason, they have to figure out how to take advantage of those lights-out shooters and how to get other players scoring even if those shooters go cold.