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 – http://aces.wnba.com

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

Aces force deciding game five in 93-76 win over Phoenix

Phoenix Mercury guard Skylar Diggins-Smith vies for the ball with Las Vegas Aces guard Kelsey Plum and guard Jackie Young (0) during the first half of Game 4 of a WNBA basketball playoff series Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)


By Shawn McCullough

The Aces blew the game open in the third quarter, going on a 24-0 run to take game four of the WNBA Semifinals, 93-76, over the Mercury in Phoenix.

“We played a solid basketball game,” said head coach Bill Laimbeer. “The whole package is who we are.”

With the win, the Aces and Mercury will play a deciding game five on Friday in Las Vegas.  Winner advances to the WNBA Finals against the Chicago Sky.

“We haven’t won anything,” said Laimbeer. “It’s 2-2, that’s where we are supposed to be.”

The Aces were led by guard Chelsea Gray with 22 points, while guard Kelsey Plum came off the bench to score 20.

“We had great energy and just a different change in attitude,” said Plum. “Getting beat the last two games was humbling.”

A’ja Wilson recorded a double-double, scoring 15 points and pulling down 12 rebounds.

The Aces will attempt to advance to the WNBA Finals for the second straight season.

Las Vegas Aces – http://aces.wnba.com

Game Notes:

– The Aces shot 48.1% from the field.
– Las Vegas out-rebounded the Mercury, 37-35.
– The Aces went 11 for 22 from three-point range.

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

Aces on brink of elimination after blowout loss, 87-60

Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner (42) shoots over Las Vegas Aces forward A’ja Wilson (22) during the first half of a WNBA basketball game Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)


By Shawn McCullough

The Aces shot just 30.9% from the field in an 87-60 loss to the Mercury in Phoenix in game three of the WNBA Semifinals.

“We just didn’t have it offensively today,” said head coach Bill Laimbeer. “Shooting 30% isn’t going to win games. We missed a lot of shots that we normally make.”

“I don’t feel like this is our team,” said center Liz Cambage. “We can’t start games 10-0.”

Cambage led the Aces with 13 points, while Dearica Hamby added 10.

A’ja Wilson went just 2 for 14 from the field.

“A’ja didn’t get on track today and neither did [Kelsey] Plum,” said Laimbeer.

The Mercury dominated the Aces on the boards, pulling down 58 rebounds, to Las Vegas’ 29.

“When you miss a lot of shots like we did, the defensive team is going to get a lot of rebounds,” said Laimbeer.

Brianna Turner led the Mercury with 23 points while pulling down 17 rebounds.

The Mercury now lead the best of five series two games to one heading into game four on Wednesday in Phoenix.

“We need to go back to playing our game,” said guard Jackie Young.

Las Vegas Aces – http://aces.wnba.com

Game Notes:

– The Mercury shot 44.3% from the field.
– Only two Aces players scored in double figures.
– The Aces went just 2 for 14 from three-point range.

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

Aces blown out in game two of semifinals, 117-91

Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi (3) calls a play as she brings the up court against the Las Vegas Aces during the second half of Game 2 in the semifinals of the WNBA playoffs Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)


By Shawn McCullough

The Phoenix Mercury stole home court advantage with a 117-91 blowout of the Las Vegas Aces at the Michelob Ultra Arena.

“Effort, we didn’t have it tonight,” said head coach Bill Laimbeer. “They played harder because they wanted it more than us.”

Laimbeer wasn’t happy with his team’s performance, but also was unhappy with the referees.

“Getting a little tired of the referees and how we’re being refereed,” said Laimbeer.

Kelsey Plum led the Aces with 25 points off the bench, going 10 for 17 from the field including 3 for 8 from three-point range.

The Aces had six players score in double digits, while shooting 52.2% from the field.

The Aces just couldn’t find a way to stop Mercury guard Diana Taurasi, who dropped 37 points, hitting eight three-pointers.

Phoenix started the game fast, building a 17-point lead in the first quarter.  The Mercury controlled the game after that.

The Aces and the Mercury are now tied 1-1 in the best of five game series.

The Aces will travel to Phoenix to play game three of the WNBA semifinals on Sunday.

Las Vegas Aces – http://aces.wnba.com

Game Notes:

– The Mercury shot 60.6% from the field.
– The Aces were out-rebounded by Phoenix, 36-23.
– Las Vegas turned the ball over just six times (Phoenix had 14 turnovers).

Game Starters:

F – 22 A’ja Wilson
F – 3 Riquna Williams
C – 41 Kiah Stokes
G – 0 Jackie Young
G – 12 Chelsea Gray

Aces Injury Report:

Angel McCoughtry—Out, right ACL

Aces take game one of WNBA semifinals, 96-90

Las Vegas Aces guard Riquna Williams (2) lays up the ball during the second half of Game 1 in the semifinals of the WNBA playoffs against the Phoenix Mercury Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021, in Las Vegas. Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner (42) is at left. The Aces beat the Mercury 96-90. (AP Photo/Steve Marcus)


By Shawn McCullough

The Aces came off eight days rest and took game one of the WNBA semifinals in a 96-90 win over the Phoenix Mercury at the Michelob Ultra Arena.

“They [Aces] came focused today,” said head coach Bill Laimbeer. “If we can maintain the consistency in this series, it’s our game.”

Riquna Williams led the Aces with 26 points, while Kelsey Plum came off the bench and added 25.

“I took advantage of anything that they gave me and didn’t overthink,” said Williams on her career night.

“We bring consistency and energy off the bench,” said Plum. “We don’t care about the numbers. We care about how we can uplift our team.”

Chelsea Gray recorded a double-double, scoring 17 points and dishing out 12 assists.

“We [the Aces guards] were just taking what the defense gave us,” said Gray.

With the win, the Aces jump out to a 1-0 lead in the best of five semifinals series against the Mercury.

The Mercury made it to this series by beating the New York Liberty, 83-82, in the first round and by knocking off the Seattle Storm, 85-80, in the second round.

Las Vegas Aces – http://aces.wnba.com

Game Notes:

– The Aces shot 49.3% from the field.
– Las Vegas outrebounded the Mercury, 34-30.
– The Aces got 34 points off the bench.

Game Starters:

F – 22 A’ja Wilson
F – 3 Riquna Williams
C – 41 Kiah Stokes
G – 0 Jackie Young
G – 12 Chelsea Gray

Aces Injury Report:

Angel McCoughtry—Out, right ACL

Aces win regular season finale, 84-83

Monica D. Spencer/The Republic Brittney Griner of the Phoenix Mercury attempts to keep the ball from Las Vegas Aces’ Kiah Stokes during a Sept. 19, 2021 game at the Footprint Center.


By Shawn McCullough

The Aces got a late bucket from Jackie Young to beat the Mercury in Phoenix, 84-83.

Young grabbed a rebound off a Kelsey Plum miss and put it back with just 4.3 seconds left in the game to secure the win for Las Vegas.

Young finished the game with 10 points, while Plum came off the bench and scored a game high 23 points.

Liz Cambage played 9:31 and had four points with four rebounds after coming out of the health and safety protocol.

With the win, the Aces finished the regular season 24-8 and secured the double bye by finishing in second place in the standings.

The WNBA playoffs will begin on Thursday, September 23rd.

Las Vegas Aces – http://aces.wnba.com

Game Notes:

– The Aces shot 46.4% from the field.
– Each team pulled down 33 rebounds.
– Ten Aces players saw substantial minutes in a game that didn’t matter in the standings.

Game Starters:

F – 22 A’ja Wilson
F – 3 Riquna Williams
C – 41 Kiah Stokes
G – 0 Jackie Young
G – 12 Chelsea Gray

Aces Injury Report:

Angel McCoughtry—Out, right ACL

Aces secure playoff double bye with win over Sky, 103-70

LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 30: Riquna Williams (2) of the Las Vegas Aces seen playing the Los Angeles Sparks on June 30, 2021 at the L.A. Convention Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by John McCoy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)


By Shawn McCullough

The Aces rolled off a 34-17 second quarter enroute to a 103-70 blowout win over the Sky in Chicago.

“Tonight was one of our better games,” said head coach Bill Laimbeer. “We will take the win.”

With the win, the Aces secured the second seed going into the playoffs and a double bye.

“We haven’t done anything yet,” said Laimbeer. “We were expected to get the double bye.”

Six players scored in double figures including Riquna Williams, who scored a game high 22 points.

“Defense wins games,” said Williams on the Aces defense. “We need to just lock up and defend.”

A’ja Wilson recorded a double-double, scoring 14 points and pulling down 10 rebounds, while Kelsey Plum came off the bench and dropped 20.

“I was just trying to play free and be myself,” said Plum. “We knew that we had to bring up the intensity level.”

The Aces improved to 23-8 on the season heading into their final game of the regular season on Sunday in Phoenix against the Mercury.

Las Vegas Aces – http://aces.wnba.com

Game Notes:

– The Aces shot 56.2% from the field.
– Las Vegas was outrebounded by Dallas, 47-33.
– The Aces went 9 for 18 from three-point range.

Game Starters:

F – 22 A’ja Wilson
F – 3 Riquna Williams
C – 41 Kiah Stokes
G – 0 Jackie Young
G – 12 Chelsea Gray

Aces Injury Report:

Angel McCoughtry—Out, right ACL
Liz Cambage – Out, health and safety protocol

Aces rally to beat Wings, 85-75


By Shawn McCullough

Trailing by 12 at halftime, the Aces rallied in the second half to beat the Dallas Wings, 85-75, at ULTRA Arena.

Las Vegas took over in the third quarter, scoring 20 of the final 26 points in the quarter.

Kelsey Plum led the Aces with 30 points coming off the bench, going 5 for 7 from three-point range.

A’ja Wilson record a double-double, scoring 21 points and pulling down 12 rebounds, while Riquna Williams added 16.

With the win, the Aces improved to 22-8 on the season and sit two games behind the Connecticut Sun for first place.  Las Vegas is two games ahead of third place Minnesota with just two games remaining in the regular season.

The Aces will next play the Sky on Friday in Chicago.

Las Vegas Aces – http://aces.wnba.com

Game Notes:

  • The Aces shot 47.7% from the field.
  • Las Vegas was outrebounded by Dallas, 40-33.
  • The Aces scored 49 points in the second half.


Game Starters:

F – 22 A’ja Wilson
F – 3 Riquna Williams
C – 41 Kiah Stokes
G – 0 Jackie Young
G – 12 Chelsea Gray

Aces Injury Report:

Angel McCoughtry—Out, right ACL
Liz Cambage – Out, health and safety protocol

Aces roll over Lynx, 102-81

By Shawn McCullough

The Aces are looking to position themselves for the start of the playoffs in two weeks, coming out with a blowout win over the Minnesota Lynx, 102-81, at Michelob ULTRA Arena.

“This is one of our better games that we played consistently, start to finish,” said head coach Bill Laimbeer.  “It was an important win that gave us an opportunity to position ourselves for a double bye [in the playoffs], but we need to win two of the next three games.”

Jackie Young exploded for a career high 29 points and 10 rebounds, while forward A’ja Wilson added 20.

“I didn’t expect 29 points, but I will take it,” said Laimbeer about Young.

“It is just being aggressive from the start,” said Young.  “I just came out aggressive and was just trying to do a little bit more.”

Forward Chelsea Gray had a career high 14 assists in the game.

“We were just clicking on all cylinders,” said Gray.  “We were just moving the ball and being very efficient.”

With the win, the Aces improved to 21-8 on the season and sit 1.5 games behind the Connecticut Sun for first place.

The Aces will not play again until Monday against the Dallas Wings at Michelob ULTRA Arena.

Las Vegas Aces – http://aces.wnba.com

Game Notes:

  • The Aces shot 55.1% from the field.
  • Las Vegas limited their turnovers to just five.
  • The Aces scored 100 or more points for the sixth time this season.


Game Starters:

F – 22 A’ja Wilson
F – 3 Riquna Williams
C – 41 Kiah Stokes
G – 0 Jackie Young
G – 12 Chelsea Gray

Aces Injury Report:

Angel McCoughtry—Out, right ACL
Liz Cambage – Out, health and safety protocol

Aces fall to Sky, 92-84

Photo by Jeff Bottari/NBAE via Getty Images The Aces and Sky were expected to be two of the top teams in the WNBA this year.


By Shawn McCullough

The Aces struggled, shooting just 41.1% from the field, in a 92-84 loss to the Sky at Wintrust Arena in Chicago.

The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Aces.

Las Vegas got a game high 23 points from guard Kelsey Plum, as she went 7 for 16 from the field and 7 for 7 from the foul line.

Forward A’ja Wilson scored 18 points and pulled down 12 rebounds, while Riquna Williams added 14.

The Sky were led by guard Allie Quigley, who dropped 22 points.

With the loss, the Aces fell to 20-8 on the season and sit 1.5 games behind the Connecticut Sun for first place.

The Aces will next play at home on Wednesday against the 18-9 Minnesota Lynx with just four games remaining in the regular season.

Las Vegas Aces – http://aces.wnba.com

Game Notes:

  • The Sky shot 50.7% from the field.
  • Las Vegas outrebounded the Sky, 38-37.
  • A’ja Wilson and Kiah Stokes combined for 22 rebounds.


Game Starters:

F – 22 A’ja Wilson
F – 3 Riquna Williams
C – 41 Kiah Stokes
G – 0 Jackie Young
G – 12 Chelsea Gray

Aces Injury Report:

Angel McCoughtry—Out, right ACL
Dearica Hamby – Out, left ankle sprain
Liz Cambage – Out, health and safety protocol