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Aces set franchise-records in three-point shooting, blast Dream along the way

Las Vegas Aces guard Kelsey Plum crosses halfcourt against the Washington Mystics. Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

A pair of familiar faces on the other sideline did not stop Las Vegas from rebounding from its first loss of the season, setting some new franchise-records in the process.

The Aces beat the Atlanta Dream, 96-73, Friday, May 13 from the Gateway Center Arena at College Park.

Dream Head coach Tanisha Wright and General Manager Dan Padover left the Aces during the offseason in favor of new opportunities down south.

“I think we were all disappointed,” guard Kelsey Plum said about the loss at Washington. “We were disappointed with the effort we put forth which should never be a question [...] This league is so tough, you’ve got to win on the road.”

Las Vegas is now 3-1 through four games this season under new head coach Becky Hammon.

“Really good bounce back game for us,” she said. “This is the first time that I’ve been in this position with these girls and it was nice to see them respond.”

The Aces will head back home after posting a 1-1 record during this two-game road trip.

Upon returning home, they will be greeted by the Phoenix Mercury with a Tuesday, May 17 matchup next on the schedule.

Las Vegas beat Phoenix by 18 points on Opening Night of this new league year.

As part of this latest win, the Aces put up new franchise records in three-pointers made and attempted, going 16-for-35.

“Same looks, same looks,” Plum said when asked about the shooting difference between the Washington game and Atlanta. “We just shot them. I think in DC people were a little bit hesitant to shoot. You guys have to remember, this is a brand new system, a brand new style from a brand new coach. We’re still learning and growing.”

It started right away for the team as it hit five of its 10 attempts taken in the first quarter.

Moreover, Las Vegas built a lead as large as 14 points in the first quarter, marking the fourth straight game with a double-digit first quarter lead.

Las Vegas head coach Becky Hammon shouts out instructions to Aces players. Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

“I thought [the Aces] really jumped out on this team in the first quarter,” Hammon said. “And really set the tone for us, defensively. And kind of set the tone for the whole game.”

Before the end of the game, the Aces would lead by as many as 27 points.

Guard Riquna Williams checked in in the first quarter, signifying her first game action since November.

“I thought she was great,” Hammon said. “She’s such a difference maker coming off the bench like that. She is automatic, instant offense. For her, a really solid showing coming out after not playing in a few weeks. That’s her first time really going five-on-five live.” Williams found success early, closing the first half with nine points and three made threes.

“We talked about making a statement when we came out,” she said. “Especially since our last game ended not exactly how we wanted it to, so we wanted to focus on having a great start and finishing the game the same way we started.”

Williams finished as one of the six Aces in double-figures, posting 14 points off-the-bench.

All five starters also scored in double-figures including a 14-point, 11-assist night from Plum.

“I told Kelsey early in the year that she’ll be the hardest guard in the league because of her willingness to pass,” Hammon said. “She has such a high-level skill set scoring the ball that now when teams are just focused on taking away her scoring, her willingness to pass kind of makes her unguardable.”

Plum recorded the second point-assist double-double of her career.

“I think it’s been a long time coming,” she said. “This is my fifth year and I feel very comfortable in my own skin – on-the-court, off-the-court. I feel like I’m ready and I’m going to continue playing at the level I’m playing at and continue to learn and get better and grow.

“It’ll all work itself out in the end but I want it. I want it so fucking bad – I know I should bleep that but I want it and that’s what you’re going to see from me.”

Forward Dearica Hamby also posted a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds. She now leads the league with 11.3 rebounds per game.

Las Vegas Aces forward A'ja Wilson shows off her wingspan while playing defense against the Washington Mystics. Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

Forward A’ja Wilson led the team in scoring with 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting to go along with seven rebounds. However, her defense was the topic of discussion after the win.

“A’ja’s been elite defending the paint,” Hammon said. “Another game with five blocked shots. She’s absolutely owning that end of the court.”

Wilson has recorded four or more blocks in three of the team’s four games this season. In addition, all three of those games have come in succession with her lone one block game coming in the team’s opener at Phoenix.

“I thought you saw great energy and great effort,” Plum said. “Let’s start the campaign now people, [A’ja Wilson] for Defensive Player of the Year."

As a team, Las Vegas forced 19 turnovers while committing 13 of its own.

“Becky said it, ‘We’re a little bit undersized,” Plum said. “So we’ve got to scrap, we’re scrappers. I think that we missed that against DC and so that needed to be at the forefront of today’s game.”

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