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WNBA: Comeback, Allisha Gray block sends Dallas Wings to playoff games in 2021

Dallas Wings guard Allisha Gray jumped from one side of Sabrina Ionescu to the other after the latter stopped at the free throw line to adjust for a final shot with her New York Liberty one Saturday night off. Ionescu put herself in a position to immediately take a leap. Though leaning forward a little, her hands pick up the ball in perfect shape – she was not in an awkward corner. But Gray, now to the left of Ionescu and slightly behind her, reaches out with her left hand and blocks the ball without contaminating at 0.6 seconds left. Gray’s teammate Marina Mabrey, who scored 21 points, grabbed the ball and sent the wing to the playoffs. 77-76 won at College Park Center in Arlington, Texas.

The Dallas fans went wild when they learned that Gray (13 points, 11 rebounds) and Kayla Thornton (13 points, five rebounds stole two), the two wings with the longest team both in their fifth year with the team was, played the key. roles in the game.

Satou Sabally (13 points) She had a gutsy try with two minutes to make that made the score 75-74 and followed with a break at 38 seconds over after two missions from Liberty, including a failed 3-point- attempt by her former Oregon teammate in Ionescu.

Sabally has not played since July 11 and actually stopped during the last series.

“I think it was just your body that told you, you’re doing a lot at the moment,” Sabally said. ‘I hope someone finds the video and gives it to me. I think it was just nerves, just exhaustion. This has never happened to me. ”

At the playoffs, she added, ‘it means results. That means we had to deliver results for your hard work. We had a tough season last year, we had a tough season this year, but we experienced adversity. And I think we are a very young and emerging team that can achieve a lot, even in the playoffs. “

“First, I always give glory to God,” Thornton said. “It’s a blessing, we’ve been through it. My teammates did an extremely great job tonight, just to stay together. That was the biggest part. You know we’ve already been through it, you’ll have seen it, we’m climbing down and then we’m climbing on our own little islands and we’re starting to try to think we should do it on our own. But we stuck together. ”

The Wings (13-17) in seventh place are in the playoffs after experiencing pressure to perform well with the top two draft picks and improving after an 8-14 season where they missed the post-season. However, these two sketches, Charli Collier and Awak Kuier, do not play a major role this year, bringing the honor of supporting the stars Sabally, Mabrey and Arike Ogunbowale to four veterans: Gray, Thornton, Isabelle Harrison and Moriah Jefferson. Behind the play of those players, brilliant moments from Ogunbowale and breakouts from Mabrey, the Wings showed potential out of the jump, losing five close games and winning five others, including a June 6 triumph over defending champion Seattle Storm, in their first 10.

After a win on September 2, they moved two games ahead of the league’s ninth place at that time (New York), and Vickie Johnson, head coach of the first year, was in a smile knowing that the team was in a excellent position was going with five games. Although Dallas lost its next two games on an embarrassment — one for the minor Atlanta Dream and one with 27 points for the Connecticut Sun — he rose 13 points to 9:19 on Saturday.

Thornton made a try to cut it to 10, resulting in a 13-0 run that scored 10 points from her and tied the game. Mabrey doubled a try that cut it by 6:50 to four, and Thornton followed with trailing at 5:41 and 5:01.

A Natasha Howard who put down a good assist from Ionescu knocked Liberty back by two with 3:01 left, but Mabrey made free kicks to level the game at 2:45. Ionescu’s free kicks at 2:17 give New York another two-point lead, but then Sabally does her thing. Howard barely encountered traffic problems, with 29.4 ticks left, which reduced the wing lead to one. Ogunbowale then misses a trey that would have made it a two-possession game with 8.4 seconds to go. Howard picks up the rebound and New York’s last possession starts on the Wings side after a 5.7-second halftime play.

After the game, Johnson was asked about the playoffs in her first year at the helm in Dallas.

“It feels incredible,” she said. ‘The one thing we talked about as a team before the game: we do not want anyone else to decide our fate. We wanted to do it on our own. … It was great to see Satou back, Mabrey getting up, playing incredible minutes, and Gray getting that block at the end. It all started with defense and it ended with defense. ”

Dallas led by as many as seven in the first. The Liberty were one ahead at halftime to win the third 25-16.

Mabrey added eight rebounds and Ionescu (18 points, eight boards, two blocks) and Liberty keeper / forward Betnijah Laney (19 points) scored six assists. Howard scored 16 points, 11 rebounds and four assists and Sami Whitcomb (4-of-7 from outside the arc) scored 12 points in a defeat.

The Wings turned the ball over just six times.

Either the Liberty or the Washington Mystics can still surpass the Wings and drop them to the eighth seed, but Dallas is currently 1.5 games ahead of the Mystics in eighth place. New York (11-19) is half a game behind Washington, so it’s currently out of the playoffs.

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