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Skid over: Aces end longest losing streak since 2019 with narrow win over Mercury

Las Vegas forward Alysha Clark (#7) high fives teammate A'ja Wilson (#22) with guard Jackie Young (#0) in the background. Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

The three-game losing streak for the Las Vegas Aces is over.

Las Vegas ended its downward slide with a four-point win over Phoenix Thursday night from the Footprint Center, 103-99. Through the first 11 games of the season, these two teams have met three times with the Aces claiming two of the outings.

Additionally, this was the first time the team played a fully healthy Mercury team with center Brittney Griner playing in her third game this season. As a result, seven of the 12 players on the recently announced  Team USA roster were in the building.

“At the end of the day, you should expect a little adversity,” Hammon said. “I asked the group ‘How are you wired when things get hard?’ And I think [guard] Jackie Young kind of told me exactly how she’s wired when things get hard.”

A second commissioner’s cup win this season moves Las Vegas to 6-5 on the year and 2-3 in the midseason spectacle. It now will prepare for perhaps its toughest three-game stretch of the season.

Over the next three contests, Aces’ opponents have a combined overall record of 31-7. That stretch of games will begin with a Saturday afternoon matinee with the New York Liberty from the Michelob Ultra Arena with tip-off slated for noon.

Aces forward A'ja Wilson goes up high to defend the hook shot of Mercury center Brittney Griner. Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

“We were able to withstand the hit and even deliver one back,” Hammon said. “That’s the growth and maturity of a really good team. We definitely have some things we know we can still improve on. But we’re starting to see little glimpses of what we can be this year.”

Young didn’t score her first points of the game until early in the second quarter but would be in store for a career night.

After going scoreless on four field goal attempts, Young rallied to score 21 of her career-high 34 points in the second quarter. As part of that, she drilled five of her career-high seven made three-pointers in the game.

Those five threes from Young were half the team’s 10 made threes in the quarter, which set a new WNBA record for most made threes in a quarter. The team also went perfect from deep while doing it.

“This is definitely a different role for me,” she said. “The ball is in my hand a lot more so I’m just trying to make the right decision and trying to make the right reads [...] Today, I just got hot for a little bit.”

Las Vegas went on a 23-6 run in the second quarter to go up three points after trailing by as many as 16 points in the game’s opening frame. At one point, the team knocked down nine of 10 field goals during a stretch en route to a franchise record 42 points in the 10 minutes before halftime.

Young ended the night with 34 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

“In Seattle, she wasn’t herself,” Hammon said. “I basically made her stay home from [Los Angeles] because of her legs. So when you’re working back the fatigue factor is real.”

That second quarter was needed after the team had fallen in a double-digit hole in the first quarter. The first person not named A’ja Wilson to score didn’t happen until the 2:37-mark of the first.

Wilson scored the team’s first six points of the game on the way to 10 opening frame points on 5-for-6 from the field. Just about midway through the third quarter, she crossed over into the 20-point threshold for the 16 consecutive regular season games.

Las Vegas guard Jackie Young goes to the basket during her career-high scoring night in Phoenix. Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

Moreover, she has tallied 25 or more points in eight straight games, which passes future Hall-of-Famer Tina Charles for the most consecutive 25-point games in WNBA regular season history.

“We wanted her in space,” Hammon said. “She just picked her times [...] I was just saying in the locker room that she had 32 and I didn’t hardly call a play for her.”

Wilson became the second of two 30-point efforts for the Aces as she finished with another monster stat line of 32 points, 15 rebounds and two blocks.

Guard Kelsey Plum added 16 points on a rough 5-for-16 from the field in the win as the final Las Vegas player with double-figure scoring.

Starting forward Alysha Clark scored five of her seven points in the final 2:12 of regulation including a clutch corner three with the team up a point. The 36-year-old ended the night with a game-high +14 plus/minus in 35 minutes played which shared in a game-high.

“She’s invaluable to this team,” Hammon said. “In a variety of ways. She makes us really versatile, she gives us a really great small-ball four so we’re really able to spread the court which gives A’ja space, gives Jackie space, gives KP space – it gives everybody space.

“And if you don’t pay attention to her, that corner three was huge.”


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