No championship hangover as Aces blitz Fever, win by 21
Updated: Jul 31, 2022
If there was ever a fear of a mid-season championship hangover for the Las Vegas Aces, the team put it to bed with a 20-point demolition as it returned to regular season play.
Las Vegas beat the Indiana Fever, 93-72, Friday, July 29 from Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Through two games played against the Fever this year, the Aces have won by an average of 17 points per game.
“I thought Indiana got out and pressured us a little bit,” head coach Becky Hammon said. “But once we kind of got a beat on it, [started] taking care of the ball better and locked in defensively a little bit better we started to get some separation.”
Indiana kicked off the start of a five-game road trip for Las Vegas as it will host the second stop of the trip as well.
“We’ve got to tighten up some things,” guard Kelsey Plum said. “Becky talks about ‘brick-by-brick’ and we’re continuing to grow game-by-game.”
The third and final meeting of the regular season between these two clubs will take place Sunday, July 31 from Hinkle Fieldhouse. Tip-off is scheduled for 12 p.m.
Las Vegas is 11-3 on the road this season and sit atop of the Western Conference with a 21-8 overall record. As it currently stands, the team still sits a game behind the Chicago Sky for tops in the league.
With seven more games to play in the regular season, the team has no plans to rest any of its starters according to one player in particular.
“The schedule is the way it is,” Plum said. “There’s no rest, like – they wanted to kill us this year – it is what it is. We can’t just sit [former league MVP] A’ja Wilson for a game, we don’t have that luxury for a game that some people do.”
Wilson scored 20 or more points for the eighth straight game, pacing the Aces to the 21-point win over the Fever. Wilson scored six of the team’s first 12 points on her way to an 18-point first half on 8-of-10 shooting.
She finished tied for the game-high with 22 points on 10-of-15 from the field with six rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Plum also shared the game-high with Wilson, recording 22 points on 8-of-11 from the floor with three made threes.
“They’re the tone setters for the whole team,” Hammon said. “It’s important that we get out to a good start. That being said, I don’t think they were very pleased with how we started the game either.”
As a team, Las Vegas shot 53% from the field while holding its opponent 37% on the other end. This included going 9-of-26 from three-point range versus the 7-of-28-mark from Indiana.
“As basic as it sounds, we still need to [improve] in our communication defensively,” Hammon said. “We do a lot of different things, everybody has to be on the same page, understand what we are doing and then communicate it down-the-line.”
It took until the 2:14-mark of the first quarter for the first attempted three by the Aces. With 48.5 left in the first frame, they got their first to fall.
To close the first half, Las Vegas used an 8-0 run over the last 1:11 of the second quarter to build a 17-point lead heading into halftime.
“We needed a pick-me-up,” Wilson said. “I don’t know what was going through our minds but it was a slow start and we can’t have that against anyone.”
Before the final buzzer, the Aces would have the home team down by as many as 28 points.
The dominance showed in the rebound category where Las Vegas would end the game +13. It was enough to make up for the 19 turnovers committed by the team on the other end.
Indiana native Jackie Young led the team with seven rebounds including three offensive boards.
“Becky wants the guards to rebound,” she said. “I just try to help A’ja and [forward Dearica Hamby] on the boards a little bit. [I try] to get some of the loose ones that come around the free throw line.”