After beating the Indiana Fever 84-80 on Sunday, the Las Vegas Aces moved to a franchise-best 6-0 start.
A’ja Wilson, the reigning MVP, led the way for the Aces with 27 points, ten rebounds, and four blocks, while Jackie Young scored 19, Chelsea Gray had 17, and Kelsey Plum added 9.
The Fever were led by Kelsey Mitchell with 22 points, while Erica Wheeler scored 15 points and Nalyssa Smith finished with 10 points.
Midway through the first quarter, the Aces went on a 9-0 run to grab a four-point lead, their highest of the quarter at 19-15. Indiana would close the last three minutes of the quarter strong, holding the Aces to 2 points while scoring 13. A’ja Wilson scored 14 of the Aces 21 first quarter points, going 5-5 from the field. Jackie Young had the remaining 7 points.
Indiana would score the first three points of the second quarter to extend their lead to double digits, 31-21, with 8:31 left. The Aces would cut into the lead going on a 8-0 run to cut the deficit to 2 at 31-29. Both teams would cool down after a torrid first quarter shooting start, with the Fever shooting 21% from the field and the Aces shooting 33%. Indiana would lead 39-38 at the half.
Kelsey Mitchell would come alive for the Fever in the third quarter, scoring 14 of her 22 points and helping the Fever build a seven-point lead late heading into the fourth. This would be the first time this season that the Aces would find themselves trailing heading into the fourth quarter.
Kelsey Mitchell knocked down a three to give Indiana a ten point lead three minutes into the fourth quarter. This would be Mitchell’s only points in the quarter as the Aces defense would go on to limit her to 1-3 shooting.
“She’s a great player. We know she’s gonna hit shots and so we just have to try to stay in her space once she gives the ball up and make it hard for her to get it again,” Young said. “It takes a team effort to stop her and so we just all had to lock in on her in the second half.”
The Aces would rally back but would trail the Fever the entire fourth quarter till a Jackie Young layup gave them an 80-79 lead with 58 seconds remaining. The Aces would have their first lead since the first quarter.
On the following play, Aliyah Boston drew a foul and made one free throw to tie the game at 80. The Aces would not score on their next possession, but the defense would come up huge as Candace Parker would draw a foul on the rebound, resulting in two free throws, both of which she would make to give the Aces the lead.
A’ja Wilson’s defense on Kelsey Mitchell’s layup resulted in a miss, and the Aces would grab the rebound with 12 seconds remaining and hit two free throws to win 84-80.
The Aces finished the fourth quarter with zero turnovers and forced five Indiana turnovers which they would turn into 8 points.
“I thought we buckled in defensively and we were locked into what we were doing and then you know offensively no turnovers” Hammon said. “You give yourself a chance to win when you get stops and you take care of the ball.”
The Aces will travel to Connecticut for two games against the Sun in a finals rematch with the first game tipping off Tuesday at 4 p.m.