Aces knock off Storm behind dominant defense

Lucas Peltier USA Today Sports
The Las Vegas Aces improve to 20-2 on the season after defeating the Seattle Storm, 79-63.

On a night when the Las Vegas Aces were held to less than 80 points for the third time this season, they defeated the Storm and improved to 20-2.

The Las Vegas Aces improve to 20-2 on the season after defeating the Seattle Storm 79-63.

A’ja Wilson led the Aces with 23 points and 15 rebounds, while Jackie Young had 22 points and Kelsey Plum had 20.

Ezi Magbegor and Jewell Loyd led the way with 12 points each, Jordan Horston finished with 11 points.

After an Alysha Clark three-pointer late in the third quarter, the Aces gained their largest lead of the game at 24. However, their offense would struggle to begin the fourth quarter, and the Storm would cut the lead to seven points halfway through the fourth quarter, but they would be unable to get any closer. The Aces would respond and go onto outscore the Storm 17-8. Las Vegas would defeat the Storm by 13 points after previously beating them by 33 and 41 points this season. This would be the Aces first win when scoring under 80 points with their only other two times resulting in losses.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

Aces Slow Down Loyd

Loyd came into the game averaging 26 points per game and had just scored the most points in All-Star game history with 31. The Aces defense has been outstanding this season, holding Loyd to 17 points per game, her lowest average points per game against any team. That pattern continued tonight, as Loyd struggled to find open shots with Jackie Young defending her tough all night. Loyd finished the game with 12 points on 3-13 shooting and 1-6 from three.

“Our defense was great they scored 63 points to hold Jewell Loyd to 12 points in the game I like that,” Hammon said.”It’s a full team effort we threw different bodies at her, different looks that she was reading different defense all night.”

Aces defense comes up huge

On a night when the Aces offense struggled throughout the game, the defense did not. The Aces were active all game long in the passing lanes finishing. the game with 16 steals and also blocking 4 shots. Seattle would finish the game with 18 turnovers, resulting in 21 Aces points. Steals were crucial in the fourth quarter, when the Aces offense went cold, allowing them to score easily in transition. Seattle ended the game with just 63 points and their leading scorers being held to under 12 points.

“Their top 3 scorers are 12, 12 and 11 thats just really hard to do so I thought our defense won the game not our offense,” Hammon said.

Wilson added: “Locking in on the defensive end. I think we did a pretty good job of communicating and being aware of where everyone was going and knowing our personal. So we really had to buckle in and once we play out of our defense rusty or not we are a pretty decent team.”

A’ja Wilson Dominates

A’ja Wilson showed no signs of post-All-Star break fatigue, dominating the Storm on both ends of the floor. Wilson finished with 23 points on 9-15 shooting, 15 rebounds, 3 blocks, and 3 steals. A’ja Wilson achieved the 300-block milestone in her career with those blocks. A’ja now ranks 24th all-time in WNBA blocks, averaging 1.5 per game.

The Aces will travel to Minnesota for a matchup with the Lynx on Saturday with tip off set 12 p.m. PT.