It’s no joke that as of April 1 UTD is home to women’s professional basketball champion Dallas Fury, winners of the ProCup Tournament.
Before a crowd of 1,250 in the Activity Center, the Fury managed to keep its cool against the Colorado Chill. Overcoming a one-point halftime deficit, the Fury sealed a 73-69 victory in the final minutes.
Fury guards Anna DeForge and Sheila Lambert led the team, scoring 19 and 16 points respectively, while forward Sheryl Swoopes and center Ta’Keisha Lewis each came away with 14.
The Fury, a member of the six-team National Women’s Basketball League, transferred to Dallas from Tennessee in January and made UTD its temporary home.
Although the Fury ended the season with a 6-7 road record, the team went undefeated in its 10 home contests.
“I’m very proud of the job from our team and I’m proud for Dallas,” said head coach Nancy Lieberman. “We were prepared for success and we came to win. Dallas is a city of winners. They only expect the best and I hope this year we gave them that.
“We never looked at any other venues. This is the first place we went to and the last place we went to,” Lieberman said. “We wanted to come here.”
DeForge, the 2004 Most Valuable Player, said she loves playing at UTD. DeForge credited the fans for the energetic environment and the school’s personnel for UTD’s “accessibility and fantastic facilities.”
Forward Cheryl Ford, daughter of basketball pro Karl Malone, added that Dallas provided the “best crowd” with fans that were “behind us 100 percent.”
Even players from other teams praised UTD as a center for professional basketball.
“UTD is nice. It’s not a professional arena, but it’s really cool,” said Colorado Chill forward Maren Walseth. “Games sell out here and I’d much rather play in that environment.”
Chill guard Becky Hammon compared UTD to her team’s 6,000-seat Budweiser Events Center in Denver, Colo.
“UTD is a different atmosphere,” Hammon said, who also plays in the WNBA with the New York Liberty.
“It’s a college-looking gym, but it’s more intimate,” Hammon said. “I’d rather play in a small arena that’s filled than a big one that looks empty. [UTD has] been helpful in facilitating our needs and they’ve really taken care of us here.”
“It’s a beautiful campus as well,” Hammon added, a former Tennessee Fury player.
It is unknown whether the Fury – fresh off its transfer from Tennessee – will move for the second time in two years or return to UTD for a second season.
“Dallas is ripe for pro-basketball and UTD is the ideal venue for us. It’s first class, always clean and ready,” Fury assistant coach Candi Harvey said.
Lieberman added, “We were in the right place. There’s no better place for us to play right off the bat than UTD. We love it here and we’re so grateful this is our home.”