LAS VEGAS — The Aces made history defeating the Dream and picking up a franchise record for most wins in a season with 27 and counting. A’ja Wilson lead the. way with 21 points, 9 rebounds, 5 steals and 2 blocked shots well making history herself becoming the second leading scorer in Aces franchise history passing Becky Hammon.
“Six years she is gonna smash every record there is and probably league records too and thats what it is supposed to look like,” Hammon said. “The game is not supposed to looked the same you want these players eclipse you and be better than you.”
A’ja Wilson led the 21 points and 9 rebounds, while Jackie Young had 17 points, Chelsea Gray and Kelsey Plum each finished with 13 points, Cayla George added with 11 points.
Allisha Gray led the Dream with 19 points, followed by Cheyenne Parker with 13 points and Rhyne Howard with 12 points.
The Aces got off to a slow start, scoring just two of the first 11 points of the game, while Atlanta scored nine. A’ja Wilson, who struggled in the first half, scored a layup halfway through the second quarter to give the Aces the lead, and the Aces would never trail again. Cayla George, who finished with 11 points and three three-pointers, provided a much-needed spark late in the second quarter and again in the second half. The Aces pulled away in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Dream 28-15, to sweep the season series.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Tale of two Halves
The game was a tale of two halves with the Aces trailing 9-2 early and being forced to call an early timeout. Atlanta did a great job slowing the Aces down in the first half holding A’ja Wilson to 2-9 shooting and just 4 points at the half. The Aces four all-stars were held to just 29% shooting at. the half with not one player in double figures. In the second half the Aces came out firing especially in the fourth quarter when shots started to fall at a high rate for the Aces who shot 59 percent in the quarter. Wilson started to heat up when it mattered most in the fourth quarter, shooting 4-6 from the field and scoring 8 of her 21 points. Kelsey Plum also came alive in the fourth quarter, scoring eight of her 13 points.
“I thought they were playing harder than us defensively in that first half wanted it a little bit more. Then we kinda got going a little bit more especially in that fourth quarter like I said we were able to get separation,” Hammon said. “Defensively we always have to be there because that ball can go in or out on any given night.”
Cayla George provides a spark
With Alysha Clark out due to a back injury, the Aces would go with the next man up off the bench, with Cayla George providing a significant spark. A’ja Wilson would get in foul trouble mid way through the second quarter brining Cayla George into the game. With the game deadlocked at 28, Cayla George, who had replaced Wilson, nailed back-to-back three-pointers to help the Aces take the lead at the half. Cayla George’s three-point shooting proved crucial, as she finished the game 3-5 from three with 11 points.
“Being ready when your name is called is Cayla she goes after in practice every single day and she’s just ready,” Wilson. I think these moments here show this is when you shine the brightest. We weren’t shooting well but Cayla you did your thing girl.”
“It was nice to get a run out tonight and you know next man up mentality,” George said. “I am just really happy that the first one dropped and it gave me confidence to keep shooting.”
Aces big fourth quarter
With the Aces struggling to get off to a good start in this game they would find themselves only up 8 heading into a crucial fourth quarter against a gritty Dream team looking to be the first team to win at the Michelob Ultra Arena. The Aces, on the other hand, did not want that to happen and came out fire to open the fourth quarter. The Aces shot the highest percentage of the night in the fourth quarter, 59%, while restricting the Dream to 38%. Turnovers were important in the fourth quarter, with the Aces increasing their defensive effort and forcing 5 turnovers, resulting in 6 points while not turning the ball over at all.
“We were just really playing out of our defense we got stops we got deflections we got steals and we were just rocking and rolling,” Wilson said. “When we are like that that is when the ball seems to go into the basket and we fuel off of that and its just stop after stop after stop after stop and that is so key to us. “We have so many offensive weapons but it really comes down to what we do on the defensive end and I think that was kinda just the switch that flipped for us.”
The Aces will be back in action Tuesday for the Commissioner’s Cup championship game against the New York Liberty home for a matchup against the New York Liberty with tip off set for 6 p.m. PT.