To end a brief two-game homestand, the Las Vegas Aces took care of a familiar foe in pull away fashion.
Las Vegas completed the season sweep of Seattle, Saturday, Sept. 2 with a 103-77 win from the Michelob Ultra Arena. In four games against the Storm this year, the Aces have won contests by an average of 29 points per game.
“You’re always trying to get them experience but more importantly, you want them to get confidence out there,” head coach Becky Hammon said. “It was basically our bench group that broke that game open in the fourth quarter.”
With only two games remaining on the schedule, one home and one away, Las Vegas is now 18-1 at The House this season. Overall, the team is 32-6 and still leads the WNBA.
Prior to the regular season finale from Michelob Ultra Arena, the Aces will do battle with the Phoenix Mercury Friday, Sept. 8. With that, the team now has six days off.
“I can’t wait,” forward A’ja Wilson said. “Oh my god, I can’t wait. I can’t stress it enough and I feel like it's coming at the right time where we need to just rest.”
Days after hitting back-to-back late threes in a failed comeback effort against New York, guard Jackie Young did the same thing again en route to a fourth quarter pull away victory. Seattle cut the once 12-point lead down to two points prior to the long range daggers from the former No. 1 overall pick.
Young tallied 22 points on 50% from the floor in the winning effort.
“I think one was off a loose ball to [teammate Chelsea Gray] and she threw it back to me,” Young said. “My teammates get me the ball when I’m running in transition and then just shooting it with confidence.”
Wilson led the team with her fourth 30-point game of the season while producing her 22 double-double of the season. She did a lot of her heavy-lifting early with 21 first half points.
“Whatever she has to do in the game to ensure we have a win, that’s what she does,” Hammon said. “She’s a very selfless superstar. Here’s the other thing: She’s the easiest superstar to coach.”
For the second consecutive game, guard Kelsey Plum took her time getting herself into the offense opting instead to set up teammates. Her first points came at the 8:22-mark of the second quarter.
By the end of the night, Plum scored 15 points and dished out eight assists. She has recorded eight or more assists five times this season.
“It’s her maturity process and she always accepts challenges,” Hammon said. “She’s stubborn but coachable if that makes sense and she wants to win. Bottom line, she’s going to do whatever it takes to win.”
Gray added 14 points to go along with nine assists and five rebounds. As a team, the Aces compiled 26 assists on 35 made field goals. Additionally, the team committed eight turnovers, only one of which came before halftime. “Man, those are my guards,” Wilson said with a smile. “It’s a lot of fun playing alongside them, they make my job easy so I try to do the same thing for them.”
Reserve forward Alysha Clark scored a season-high 16 points with four made threes. She’s scored in double-figures 10 times this season including back-to-back games for three total in the month of August.
“AC’s truly a pro and a hard worker,” Wilson said. “A lot of things open up late for her and we know we can trust her to really be our anchor on both sides of the basketball. AC brings the energy on both sides of the basketball and that’s why I know the game is going to reward her and we’re going to need her.”
Clark’s four made threes is tied for her season-high this year. Against her former team, the Storm, this season, she has racked up 37 total points on 52% from the field and 10-of-16 from deep.
“Maybe she likes to play against her former teams,” Hammon said. “I thought she came out this season shooting very well then had seven or eight games where it didn’t go in and that’s just normal shooting. That can happen to anybody [...] That worm will always turn.”
While in the midst of splashing home trifectas, Clark helped lead a defensive charge that has held league’s leading scorer, Jewell Loyd, to just 17 points in three meetings coming into Saturday’s contest.
In this one, Loyd scored her first points of the game in the first quarter but did so on 1-of-6 from the field. She tallied 20 first half points on the way to 28 points for the contest.
“She can score at all three levels,” Young said. “Her bag is deep so you might think you know her first move but then she comes back with something else.”