WNBA

Aces dominate Liberty with a final score of 104-76, securing a 2-0 series lead in WNBA Finals

Becky Hammon, the coach of the Las Vegas Aces, is rarely left without words, but after the team’s remarkable performance in Game 2 of the WNBA Finals on Wednesday night, she was truly impressed.

A’ja Wilson delivered a stellar performance, scoring 26 points and collecting 15 rebounds as the Aces convincingly defeated the New York Liberty with a score of 104-76, giving them a 2-0 series lead in the best-of-five series.

Photo Credit || John Locher

Hammon expressed her admiration, saying, “The character of this team and their absolute commitment to their teammates’ success is genuine. It’s challenging to contend with when you have players who share the ball and possess both skill and competitiveness. They executed flawlessly tonight, and they don’t leave me speechless often, but tonight they did everything we’ve asked them to do, both defensively and offensively.”

Photo Credit || John Locher

Wilson was impressive, shooting 10 of 16 from the field and achieving her 26th double-double of the season, including her fourth in the playoffs. She becomes the third player in WNBA Finals history to achieve at least 25 points and 15 rebounds in a single game.

The defending champion Aces are now just one victory away from becoming the first team to repeat as champions since the 2001-02 Los Angeles Sparks. Game 3 is scheduled for Sunday in New York. No team has ever come back from a 0-2 deficit in the history of the WNBA Finals.

Photo Credit || John Locher

Wilson expressed the importance of securing their home court, saying, “We understand what’s at stake, and we needed to ensure we came out and protected our home court.”

Chelsea Gray also had an impressive double-double with 14 points and 11 assists, delivering fantastic no-look passes for easy baskets. Jackie Young contributed 24 points, and Kelsey Plum added 23. The guard trio dominated the Liberty for the second consecutive game.

Photo Credit || John Locher

New York’s coach, Sandy Brondello, acknowledged Las Vegas’s strong performance, saying, “Vegas is playing their best basketball at the moment. They’re playing with a lot of confidence, and you can see the chemistry they have. Unfortunately, we haven’t made the strides we needed to, and we haven’t shown it. We’re very disappointed because we’re a much better team than what we demonstrated.”

Photo Credit || John Locher

Jonquel Jones (22 points), Breanna Stewart (14 points), Betnijah Laney (12 points), and Sabrina Ionescu (10 points) were responsible for the majority of New York’s scoring, contributing to 76.3% of the team’s points. The rest of the team, comprising six other players, contributed only 18 points.

In contrast to New York’s previous record of 9-0 after losses this season, the Aces put an end to that streak with a commanding performance in the first and third quarters. The Aces started the game with a dominant stretch, scoring 19 of the first 21 points, with 12 of those points coming from 3-pointers. Las Vegas had a scorching start, making seven of its first nine shots, an impressive 77.8% shooting accuracy, including four successful 3-pointers. Meanwhile, New York struggled, missing nine of its first ten attempts.

Photo Credit || John Locher

Chelsea Gray emphasized the Aces’ strong defensive start, saying, “It started with our defense. We maintained our pressure, displayed physicality, and were able to play with a smooth offensive flow.”

The Aces’ lead reached a maximum of 21 points in the opening quarter before they ended the first quarter with a 38-19 lead, setting a new record for the most points scored in the first quarter of a WNBA Finals game. It was also the highest-scoring quarter for the Aces during the entire season.

Photo Credit || John Locher

The Liberty made a remarkable comeback in the second quarter, erasing a 22-point deficit with a 12-0 run. They outscored the Aces 25-14 in that period, reducing Las Vegas’ lead to eight points, with the score at 52-44 at halftime. Jonquel Jones played a crucial role, contributing 16 points during the second quarter.

However, New York’s momentum didn’t carry into the third quarter. The Aces embarked on a 17-3 run to extend their lead to 69-47. In the third quarter, the Aces outscored the Liberty 28-13, with A’ja Wilson and Jackie Young contributing 20 points.

Photo Credit || John Locher

Despite their efforts, the Liberty couldn’t close the gap, and they now face the challenge of avoiding a sweep in the series.

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GUARD PLAY

Once again, New York’s guards encountered difficulties in finding their offensive groove, collectively shooting 9 of 34 from the field for the second consecutive game. Specifically, Betnijah Laney finished 4 of 15, Sabrina Ionescu was 2 for 10, and Courtney Vandersloot, who only registered her first point in the fourth quarter, went 3 of 9. This trio, known for their regular-season 3-point shooting accuracy of 40%, is currently shooting 20 of 60 (33.3%) from the field in the series, including 8 of 33 (24.2%) from beyond the 3-point line.

STOKED TO SHOOT

Kiah Stokes concluded the game with eight points, including a season-high two 3-pointers. She delivered her first three-pointer during Las Vegas’ initial surge in the first quarter, and her second came as the Aces’ first basket in the second quarter. Throughout the regular season, Stokes made one 3-pointer in five different games.

“A night like the one she had today shouldn’t catch us off guard because we witness the dedication Kiah brings to our practice sessions daily,” Wilson remarked. “They might underestimate Kiah or not pay her enough attention, but we highly value her in our locker room.”

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