WNBA Finals Game 1: A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces beat Connecticut Sun

LAS VEGAS — The occasion bought began early Sunday. A sold-out, file crowd of 10,135 waved towels and roared as pyrotechnics shot fireplace in 5 instructions throughout introductions and “We Be Clubbin’ ” blared. Screams rained down as A’ja Wilson was introduced her second MVP trophy at heart court docket.

And all of that got here earlier than Wilson satisfied the gang to supply a number of standing ovations with a spectacular efficiency in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals. The “M-V-P! M-V-P!” chants got here recurrently.

Wilson put up a gaudy stat line of 24 factors, 11 rebounds, 4 blocks and two steals because the Aces prevailed, 67-64, to take a 1-0 lead over the Connecticut Sun within the best-of-five sequence. She turned the Michelob Extremely Area stands right into a raucous scene that appeared proper at house on the Strip.

“It was a game we needed,” Wilson mentioned. “It was a game we needed not necessarily because, oh, it’s our first win. It’s because … this is huge for us. These are statement games in a way, and when you are playing a good team like [Connecticut], you have to really lock in at all costs.”

Chelsea Grey added 21 factors and three assists and Jackie Younger had 11 factors for the Aces, who shot simply 39.7 %. Alyssa Thomas led the Sun with 19 factors, 11 rebounds, 5 assists and three steals. Jonquel Jones scored 15 factors to go together with 9 rebounds, and Brionna Jones had 12 factors off the bench.

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Earlier than the sport, Aces guard Kelsey Plum put it plainly: “Don’t tiptoe into a bar fight.”

The Aces stepped into the ring swinging — and stormed to a 21-9 lead as Wilson, Grey and Younger scored all 21. However the Sun, which likes to muddle up the sport, managed to hold round after that preliminary, emotional push from the Aces. Offensive rebounds and factors within the paint gave Connecticut the spark it wanted to go on a 19-7 run within the second quarter and take its first lead. The Aces, who had the league’s prime scoring offense, managed simply 9 factors within the second quarter, and their 67 factors for the sport have been 23 fewer than they averaged through the common season.

The Sun outscored the Aces 40-22 within the paint and grabbed 13 offensive rebounds. Wilson and Coach Becky Hammon — who mentioned she was “lit” at halftime, when Connecticut led 38-34 — made positive that wasn’t sufficient.

“Everything we had talked about, we didn’t do any of it,” Hammon mentioned of the primary half. “And true to form, they just step up and do it then. I don’t even yell in my real life, but when you feel so strongly about how you have to play a certain way — and I feel very strongly offensively and defensively about how we have to play — when you go out there and you don’t execute it, it’s frustrating. But at the end of the day, they know it. They are smart. They get it. But they had beat us in every hustle category, and that can’t happen. You can’t lose a championship or a game or a quarter on hustle. That can never be the case.”

The Aces regained their footing after halftime, when Wilson went again to work. An 11-3 stretch to shut the third quarter gave Las Vegas a 55-53 lead heading into the fourth.

“Halfway through the third, I felt still really we were in a good position,” Sun Coach Curt Miller mentioned. “In the second half of that third quarter, they started to make some difficult shots, and we could not find any kind of offensive rhythm and missed some shots we were certainly capable of, forced some shots, and got stagnated by their defense.”

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Las Vegas pushed its result in 66-58; the world was deafening when Younger hit a floater with 2:40 left. A pair of steals and layups by Thomas lower the Sun’s deficit to a few with 34.2 seconds left, however DeWanna Bonner missed a three-point try on the ultimate possession that might have tied it.

The have been defensive lapses from the Aces, however Grey took a key cost down the stretch that appeared to energise her teammates.

The Sun was upset with the outcomes however pleased with the way in which it performed with Game 2 up subsequent Tuesday night time.

“We have to have a lot of confidence,” Thomas mentioned. “I mean, this is a three-point game, and we had a chance to tie. I think we are very confident, and we know that all you need is one — and then there’s two games at our place.”

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