The Las Vegas Aces are up 1-0 after outlasting the shorthanded Phoenix Mercury, 79-63, on Wednesday night’s opening night of WNBA playoff action.
The Aces were led by Kelsey Plum (22 points, five rebounds, four assists) and Chelsea Gray (four rebounds and four assists), who scored nine of her 17 points in the fourth quarter. Jackie Young followed up with 16 points and five rebounds, A’ja Wilson contributed eight points, 12 rebounds, and three blocks, and Kiah Stokes posted eight points, 13 rebounds, and three blocks.
Plum: 22 PTS // 5 REB // 4 AST // 46% FG
Gray: 17 PTS // 4 REB // 4 AST // 66% FG
Young: 16 PTS // 5 REB // 2 3PM // 46% FG
Stokes: 8 PTS // 13 REB // 3 BLK
Wilson: 8 PTS // 12 REB // 3 BLK#RaiseTheStakes // #ALLIN pic.twitter.com/OrRB7bKq7n
— Las Vegas Aces (@LVAces) August 18, 2022
Diamond DeShields led the Mercury with 18 points and eight rebounds. Sophie Cunningham followed up with 12 points, four rebounds, and two assists.
Both teams struggled on the offensive end in the third quarter. The teams combined for seven points in the opening six minutes as Phoenix missed nine straight shots and Las Vegas seven. Wilson made the Aces’ first field goal of the fourth quarter with 7:15 left for a 55-51 lead.
The third quarter was disastrous as both teams combined for just seven points in the opening six minutes of the second half. Phoenix missed nine straight attempts while Las Vegas bricked seven. Wilson broke the fourth-quarter ice with an early bucket that helped Las Vegas create some separation.
The Aces established their will in the fourth quarter with a five-point possession midway through the fourth quarter. The Aces took a 60-51 lead after Gray was fouled hard by Megan Gustafson. Gray seemed to be in a different mode after the flagrant foul. The veteran point guard sank both free throws and hit a triple to get a lead that would never be threatened.
“She’s locked in,” Wilson said per CBSSports about Gray’s fourth quarter performance. “When the head of our snake is locked in, it trickles down. We need her to make those big buckets. We know she’s capable of doing it, so I’m glad she was able to showcase in front of a great crowd to end the regular season.”
The @LVAces pulled away for the win in the fourth quarter and it was thanks to consistent defense.
What led to @cgray209‘s hot fourth? Let’s just say, don’t poke the bear 👀 pic.twitter.com/lhfs9cIr10
— WNBA (@WNBA) August 18, 2022
The Aces will look to complete their series sweep of the Mercury on Saturday’s Game 2.