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Record third quarter leads Aces to fourth straight win

Las Vegas guard Kelsey Plum soars in for two points en route to a game-high 24 points against Phoenix. Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

From being down nine early to leading by more than 20 points, Las Vegas ran its win streak to four games with a win over Phoenix.

The Aces swept the season series away from the Mercury following a 100-80 win Saturday, May 21 from the Michelob Ultra Arena.

This is the second time the team has scored 100 points or more through the first seven games.

“The second and third quarters, we really held them down defensively,” head coach Becky Hammon said. “I’ve been preaching the whole time, when we play out of our defense, we become very dangerous.”

With one more game to play on this four-game homestand, Las Vegas is now 6-1 and leads the Western Conference.

The team will defend its 4-0 home record when the Los Angeles Sparks come to town Monday, May 23.

Former Aces center Liz Cambage will be making her return to the Michelob Ultra Arena for the first time since departing for LA in the offseason.

“I think we’re not even scratching the surface of where we can be,” guard Chelsea Gray said. “There’s moments where we’re out there like, ‘Let’s get back to it.’ We don’t allow people to get inside the paint, middle drive, score in the paint – anytime somebody gets into the middle of your defense, you’re in trouble.”

Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Guard Kelsey Plum scored 15 of her 24 points in the third quarter beginning with back-to-back three-pointers to open the second half.

Later in the quarter, she knocked down her third trey.

“I’m not going to lie, it’s fun to start and it’s fun to play,” she said. “It’s a [comfort] thing. Becky has an environment set up that we’re a team, we have great chemistry, we move the ball [and] she believes in all of us to make the right play.”

Las Vegas would lead by as many as 22 points in the third quarter on the way to a 38-18 frame. The 38 points mark the highest points for any quarter in franchise history.

“I just think we were a little complacent in the first half,” Plum said. “They’re a really good team and we know that if we let them get in a rhythm and get going – you just can’t let teams get comfortable.”

In the fourth, the lead would eventually balloon to 28 points.

Even with the largest lead of the game, Hammon still took opportunities to correct mistakes in the moment.

“I don’t care if we’re up 25 or 30,” she said. “If I don’t like something, I’m going to let them know. Because it’s not about the score, it’s about us playing the right way defensively and offensively.”

Four of the five starters reached double-figures led by Plum’s 24 and followed by guard Jackie Young’s 20 points.

That duo was the only 20-point scorers in the contest.

“That’s one of our secret weapons,” Gray said. “Versatility on both ends of the floor like defensively, we can switch a lot of actions. Different players can guard different positions at certain times.

“And offensively, you can see a guard setting an on-ball screen. I think we did a dribble hand-off and A’ja came out in the corner. It’s like, how do you scout us?”

Young also held Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi to 14 points on 4-of-14 shooting.

Over three games played against Las Vegas this season, Taurasi has been held to 31 points on 8-of-31 from the field.

“We just have a real focus on her,” Hammon said. “We also have a really good individual defender on her. But it's just about making those really great players work for everything.”

Gray and forward Dearica Hamby both added 13 points apiece.

Las Vegas forward A'ja Wilson fights through tough defense against Phoenix. Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

Forward A’ja Wilson posted nine points on 3-of-7 shooting to go along with five rebounds and two blocks.

On the other end, she held Mercury center Tina Charles to nine points on 4-of-15 shooting.

Wilson sat the entire fourth quarter and played a total of 23 minutes.

The rest for some of the starters provided an opportunity for everyone in uniform to log minutes and eventually log points.

Las Vegas guard Aisha Sheppard shoots a three-pointer in a home win against Phoenix. Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

Reserve forward Theresa Plaisance flirted with a double-double recording 11 points and nine rebounds as the last Aces player in double-figures.

“She’s doing exactly what we’ve asked her to do,” Hammon said. “I don’t need anything more from her other than just keep being who she is, playing the way she’s playing.”

Rookie guard Kierstan Bell scored her first career points in the fourth quarter.

“That’s the funnest part, our chemistry,” Plum said. “I don’t think it gets talked about enough, we like each other. We like playing with each other and that matters a lot especially in this league.”

Guard Riquna Williams missed her second straight game with a sprained left foot. She has now missed five of the first seven games of the year.

Phoenix was still without guard Skylar Diggins-Smith, who was listed as “Not With Team” a game after being listed with a non-COVID related illness.

Diggins-Smith has not played since being seen in a verbal altercation with teammate Taurasi on the bench during the team’s 86-74 loss to Las Vegas earlier this week.


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