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Aces score 100-plus for third straight game, beat Liberty again

Las Vegas players Kelsey Plum and A'ja Wilson celebrate a made basket from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

Another scoring outburst lifted the Las Vegas Aces to its second consecutive win, sending them 10 games over .500.

Las Vegas beat New York, 108-74, Thursday, July 14 from the Barclays Center. The 108 points are the most scored by any team against the Liberty.

In addition, it's the third straight game scoring 100-plus for the Aces.

“Super proud of the way we came out,” guard Kelsey Plum said. “Our third quarters have kind of been our nemesis. I think that we really bought in – oh we tied the third, dang it. Well, it’s progress for us.”

The win means Las Vegas wins the season series 2-1 over New York, averaging more than 107 points per game in the process. Coming into the game, the Aces led the league in scoring with just over 90 points per game.

Now, the team is 5-5 against Eastern Conference teams this season with another shot on the horizon. The Aces will travel to Connecticut and play the Sun Sunday, July 17 as the final stage of their three-game road trip.

Tip-off is scheduled for 10 a.m. PST.

Las Vegas is 9-3 on the road this year and 17-7 overall. The team still sits in first place in the Western Conference, a game above the Seattle Storm.

It was a historic first half for the Aces against the Liberty, scoring 71 first half points on the way to the rout.

The 71 points was also the team’s best scoring half of the year on the way to becoming the first team to score 100 or more in three straight games.

“When we are engaged defensively, we are able to play out in transition,” guard Chelsea Gray said. “[Head coach] Becky [Hammon] always says ‘Play for a teammate and we were doing that.’”

Las Vegas came out blistering hot, opening the game on a 12-0 run followed by a 10-for-10 start to the quarter. This also included a perfect 4-for-4 advantage from three that eventually became 5-for-5.

The Aces shot 13-of-20 from three-point range, good for 65%.

“We shot the ball very well,” Hammon said. “So everything gets a little bit easier when that’s happening but I was really pleased overall with our defense.”

Forward A’ja Wilson had a 20-point first half with only two misses from the field after starting the game 9-for-10.

She finished with a game-high 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting while also doing it on the defensive end with three steals and two blocks.

Plum added 21 points on 6-of-9 from the field with four made three-pointers, two in each of the first two quarters.

Gray also had it going from three, going a perfect 4-for-4 on the way to 16 points on 6-of-9 overall. All of her points were scored in the first half.

Aces guard Chelsea Gray takes a jumpshot over the outstretched arm of Liberty guard Crystal Dangerfield. Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

“We have good shooters,” Hammon said. “I was happy to see the lid come off for Chelsea. She was due for a big one.”

Gray scored 11 points in the first quarter on 4-of-4 shooting with three coming from deep. That quarter, Las Vegas built a lead as large as 24 points en route to a lead as large as 39.

The starters were lifted from the game for good with 2:24 left in the third quarter, with the team up 89-52.

Every starter had a positive plus/minus of +30 or more led by a +34-mark set by Gray.

“This is great,” Wilson said. “When you have your starters’ plus/minus at +30 or more, that’s great. That’s something that is crazy nice. What were the assists? Thirty-two assists on 38 makes.”

Guard Jackie Young dished out a game-high nine assists, helping Las Vegas to 32 team assists on 38 made field goals.

Over the last two games, she has compiled 16 total assists

Everybody in uniform logged minutes for the Aces with the bench chipping in with 33 points which included going 7-for-19 from three.

Reserve guard Riquna Williams finished one point shy of her season-high 13 points, with three made threes.

Las Vegas backup guard Riquna Williams takes a three-pointer against New York. Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

"She’s Bay Buckets,” Hammon said. “It’s just a matter of getting rhythm and shots for her. I thought she looked good today, on both sides of the ball.”

Defensively, it was there for Las Vegas all night long. It started early, holding New York scoreless through the first two and a half minutes of the game.

The Aces held the home team to 13 first quarter points after holding the Liberty to just 16 first quarter points two days prior.

Forward Natasha Howard scored 17 of her 19 points in the first half.

“I think we did the best thing we could,” Wilson said. “That’s the thing when you play teams multiple times in a back-to-back situation, you learn how to adapt and adjust.”

Guard Sabrina Ionescu was held scoreless through the first half before scoring her first points of the game from the free throw line with 8:20 left in the third quarter.

After opening the game 0-for-7 from the field, she got her first field goal exactly a quarter later before finishing with nine points on 1-of-8 shooting including 1-of-4 from deep.

“There’s no secret, New York’s offense fuels when she has the ball in her hands a lot more,” Gray said. “So we just wanted to make it difficult for her. Extend her catches, make sure we’re pressuring the ball and make sure we’re locked in on pick-and-roll coverage.”

Ionescu scored 31 and 27 points in each of the first two meetings between these teams.

Las Vegas held New York to just under 35% shooting from the field and just under 31% from three-point range.

As a result, the Aces dominated the rebounding category, ending the night +10.

“That’s going to be the difference between us winning something and us losing something,” Wilson said. “We tell our guards to run to the elbows, we tell our bigs to box out and we’re going to try and grab every rebound out there.”


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