The Las Vegas Aces are just one win away from winning back-to-back WNBA titles.
The Aces defeated the New York Liberty 104-76 in Game 2 of the WNBA Finals on Wednesday in Las Vegas, handing New York back-to-back losses for the first time this season. The Aces are undefeated in the postseason and haven’t lost since Liberty beat them on Aug. 28.
“We know what’s coming. We have to take care of our home court,” said ace center A’ja Wilson, who scored a game-high 26 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 block and 1 steal. “This is something we’ve been working on… this is what we do. For us to execute at this time, it’s really cool.”
Wilson, who finished third in MVP voting behind New York’s Breanna Stewart and Phoenix’s Alyssa Thomas, earned MVP cheers as the Aces defeated the Liberty for the second straight time.
“You have to respect it,” Wilson said. Head coach Becky Hammon added, “Third place in MVP voting? … It’s a joke.”
The Aces hope to become the first team to win back-to-back WNBA titles since the Los Angeles Sparks in 2001 and 2002. The Liberty are competing for the franchise’s first WNBA championship. But New York still has a lot of work to do – no team in WNBA history has come back from 2-0 down in a best-of-five Finals series.
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Here’s a recap and key highlights from Game 2:
Aces get off to historic start
The Aces couldn’t have gotten off to a better start, opening the second game with a 19-2 run. Kelsey Plum got Las Vegas on the board with a three-pointer and set the tone for the Aces, who played better, more scrappy and more physical than Liberty. powerful. New York fell behind 38-19 in the first quarter; the Aces scored 38 points, tying the WNBA Finals record for the most points scored in a quarter.
In the first quarter, the Aces made 6 of 10 three-pointers. Every Ace starter hit a three-pointer, including Wilson, who made her first three of the playoffs. Meanwhile, Liberty shot 2 of 10 from beyond the arc in the first quarter.
“Honestly, things were a little too easy for them,” said Liberty forward Jonquel Jones, who led the team with 22 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks. “We have to respond…we have to dig deeper, be a little tougher, make things a little more difficult and show some grit.”
Lady Liberty returns to the game
Jones made her presence felt in the second quarter and single-handedly dug Liberty out of a gaping hole. Although she got 3 fouls early, she scored 16 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks in the second quarter alone, helping New York beat the Aces 25-14 in this game, narrowing the gap to 6 point.
“We knew they weren’t going away,” Aces’ Chelsea Gray told ‘s Holly Rowe at halftime. “This is a good team. We have to focus in the third quarter.”
At halftime, the Aces’ lead was only 8 points, but the Liberty team failed to withstand the Aces’ attack, and the lead expanded to as much as 32 points in the second half. Las Vegas led across the board and never trailed, winning by 28 points.
Chelsea Gray shines
“Grey” is a walking highlight reel. She delivered numerous no-look passes, charged and knocked down hard balls. With 4 minutes and 42 seconds left in the third quarter, Gray intercepted a pass from Liberty player Johannes and pushed the ball onto the court. Jackie Young made a layup and caused a three-point foul. Gray celebrated happily and Harmon screamed.
Gray scored 14 points, 11 assists and 1 steal. Young scored 24 points and 8 rebounds, and Plum scored 23 points and 8 assists. As a team, the Aces shot 52.9% from the field and 44.8% from three-point range.
“They don’t leave me speechless very often, but they did everything we asked them to do defensively, offensively, share the ball,” Hammon said after the game. “They’re the real deal…Those girls played basketball today.”
Harmon turned to the wise words of San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, where Harmon served as an assistant from 2014 to 2022: “My wine will taste better tonight.”
Liberty starters in trouble
Outside of Jones, New York’s starters struggled. Stewart made 6 of 17 shots and scored 14 points and 13 rebounds. Sabrina Ionescu made 2 of 10 shots and scored 10 points. Courtney Vandersloot went 3-for-9 from the field with two turnovers.
The Liberty shot 36.1% from the field and only 22.9% from three-point range. Stewart said the team must “look within.” Liberty head coach Sandy Brondello said her team was “disappointed” with its performance.
“Vegas is playing their best basketball right now. They have a lot of confidence,” Brondello said after the game. “Very disappointed because we are a better team than we showed. I don’t know why … we were better than this. The challenge is to go home and win on Sunday.”
When is Game 3 of the WNBA Finals?
The best-of-five series will begin with Game 3 on Sunday at New York’s Barclays Center. ABC airs live at 3 p.m. ET.