A four-game road trip closes with a 2-2 record for the Las Vegas Aces despite suffering their second-largest loss in franchise history since moving to the desert.
Minnesota bested Las Vegas, 102-71, Sunday, July 3 from the Target Center in Minnesota.
The 71 points scored are a season-low for the Aces while the 102 points allowed are the second-most this season.
“Just didn’t have it today,” head coach Becky Hammon said. “Didn’t have it from the jump. And it snowballed after that.”
It was the fourth meeting of the year between these two clubs with Las Vegas claiming the first three by margins of six, one and lastly six on Friday night.
“Everybody’s like, ‘How are they going to respond after a loss,’” Hammon said of the Aces. “Well, a lot of times you have to know how to respond after a win.”
The Aces (15-6) are now 2-4 in their last six games after opening the season 13-2.
“I don’t think anything’s really changed,” guard Kelsey Plum said. “But this league is really smart. Coaches make adjustments, players make adjustments and I think for us, we have a heavy-minute group with the starters.”
Las Vegas will return home for one more game prior to the all-star break as the team hosts the New York Liberty from Michelob Ultra Arena.
Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 6.
“We’ll see how we respond,” Hammon said. “We’ve got New York in a couple of days and we’ll see after that.”
It was a wire-to-wire win for Minnesota, in a game where it led by as many as 34 points. One major contributing factor was the team’s edge in rebounding.
“It’s ridiculous,” Hammon said. “They played harder, much harder. They wanted the game more. They played smarter, so they win.”
Las Vegas was outrebounded, 53-25, by Minnesota.
It started early for the Lynx as they raced out to a 7-0 lead on the Aces, a complete role reversal from Friday night.
The Aces trailed 13-0 before scoring its first points with 6:52 left in the first quarter. Before long, the Lynx built an 18-point first quarter lead.
“You bury yourself by 18 in the first quarter,” Hammon said. “It’s an uphill battle, you’re on the road, you’ve beat this team three times already and it’s just a really difficult set of circumstances.”
Additionally, Minnesota outrebounded Las Vegas, 14-3, in the first 10 minutes.
The Aces didn’t record its first offensive rebound until the 5:33-mark of the second quarter. That would serve as the team’s only one on the night.
“I think defensively we were trailing the play,” guard Chelsea Gray said. “They got 15 offensive rebounds, that’s a lot. And you can’t even give half of that to this type of team.”
On the other hand, the Lynx hauled in 15 offensive boards including four on one possession in the third quarter.
Not to mention, the home team won the final frame, 24-16 en route to a 53-36 second half showing over the Aces.
Forward Aerial Powers scored a career-high 32 points on 10-of-17 shooting to go along with six rebounds and four assists.
“I saw her get whatever she wanted,” Hammon said. “Plain and simple. She wanted to drive, she drove. She wanted to shoot, she shot. And then we fouled her.”
Powers scored 14 points in the first quarter and at one point had 10 points at the same time Las Vegas had 10 points as a team.
While trying to ramp up the defensive pressure, the Aces were called for two flagrant-one fouls on Powers.
“She was just doing what she normally does,” guard Jackie Young said. “She came out with a lot of energy and got off to a good start. It’s hard to stop somebody whenever they’re in a rhythm and getting the crowd into it like that.”
Powers made nine of her 12 free throw attempts.
While struggling to get things going to start, Young was the catalyst for the team’s first bucket of the game. Before her made three, Las Vegas was 0-for-4 from the floor to start the game.
However, it was an 11-4 run that closed the once 20-point lead down to single-digits.
But from there, Las Vegas would be held scoreless for the final 2:57 of the first half.
“I think putting them on the foul line was a big thing,” Plum said. “I don’t think the officiating helped us but it is what it is, we give them that many free throws, that many looks, they’re going to knock them down. We had a lot of good looks and we just missed so I think it was just the perfect storm.”
Plum scored nine of her team-high 12 points in the third quarter just one night after posting eight points in the same frame.
The only other players in double-figures were Young and forward A’ja Wilson, who both poured in 10 points apiece on a combined 8-of-17 from the field.