Mercury rally in fourth quarter, eliminate Aces

Photo credit: Shawn McCullough (Sports Radio Service)

By Shawn McCullough

The Aces season came to an end in an 87-84 loss to the Phoenix Mercury at Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas.

“We got down and clawed back and didn’t give up,” said Mercury center Brittney Griner. “Super proud of the team.  We got the win.”

The Mercury won the best of five game series over the Aces three games to two.

Las Vegas led 66-58 after three quarters, but Phoenix outscored the Aces 29-18 in the fourth quarter to advance to the WNBA Finals.

“Someone has to lose and we did,” said head coach Bill Laimbeer. “We didn’t make the plays that we needed to in the fourth quarter and they did.”

Down two points with less than one second left, Griner blocked A’ja Wilson’s layout to seal the win.

“She [Griner] has been amazing all year,” said Phoenix guard Skylar Diggins-Smith. “She is a superstar.”

“A’ja was our second option,” said Laimbeer. “She had a good move, but Griner got a hand on it.”

Wilson took the loss hard, falling to the ground at the end of the game in tears.

Laimbeer stressed that Phoenix emerged victorious in the game because of the leadership from guard Diana Taurasi and Griner.

“This team [Aces] has lacked leadership throughout the season,” said Laimbeer.  “It’s a good learning experience for us.”

Kelsey Plum and Chelsea Gray led the Aces with 22 points, while Wilson added 21 points and 10 rebounds.

“I’m just proud to be a part of the Las Vegas Aces,” said Plum. “We were so close, that’s why it hurts.  We will be back, I have no doubt in my mind and the result will be different.”

“We played together as much as possible, but it didn’t go our way tonight,” said Gray.

The Aces head into the offseason with a list of unrestricted free agents including Liz Cambage, Riquna Williams, Angel McCoughtry and Kiah Stokes.

Las Vegas Aces –

Game Notes:

– The Aces shot 42.0% from the field.
– Las Vegas went 20 for 20 from the free-throw line.
– The Aces out-rebounded the Mercury, 38-29.
– Las Vegas turned the ball over 16 times.

Game Starters:

F – 22 A’ja Wilson
F – 3 Riquna Williams
C – 8 Liz Cambage
G – 0 Jackie Young
G – 12 Chelsea Gray

Aces Injury Report:

Angel McCoughtry—Out, right ACL

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