Aces struggles at Barclays continue as they fall to the New York Liberty

Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
The Aces are now 0-2 at the Barclays Center after falling to the Liberty 94-85.

The Las Vegas Aces fall to the Liberty and now only hold a one and a half game lead on the number one seed over New York.

After defeating the Liberty in their last matchup behind a triple double from Chelsea Gray the Aces fall to the Liberty at Barclays Center.

Jackie Young led the Aces with 24 points, while A’ja Wilson finished with 13 points, Chelsea Gray added 16 points.

Sabrina Ionescu led the Liberty with 25 points, followed by Breanna Stewart who finished with 20 points, Betnijah Laney and Courtney Vandersloot both Stewart added 17 points a each.

The Aces got off to a better start leading by 9 early but New York would respond and go on a run to close the first quarter with the lead. The difference in this game was the second quarter which was the quarter with highest point differential with the Liberty outscoring the Aces 25-16. A’ja Wilson who has struggled against the Liberty had a strong first half finishing with 15 points on 7-10 shooting. In the second half the Liberty would push their lead to as many 19 in the third quarter with Betnijah Laney scoring 15 of her 17 points in the second half. After trailing by as many as 19, the Aces trimmed the deficit to 8 with 1:24 remaining in the fourth after back-to-back Jackie Young threes, but it was too little, too late.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

Aces lose the paint battle

A problem in all these matchups for the Aces has been the rebounding battle and points in the paint. This problem continued as the Aces lost both again getting out-rebounded 43-31 and also losing the points in the paint battle 44-36. Jonquel Jones and Breanna Stewart both continued to hurt the Aces with both players having double digit rebounds combining for 22. The Liberty also took advantage of switches finding Betnijah Laney in the paint matched up with an Aces guard as she scored 15 of her 17 points in the second half.

“We have kinda been in a shooting slump for the past couple games,” Wilson said. “That is when we have to rely on our defense the most it’s kind of one of those things we don’t score they don’t score.”

Aces offensive struggle continue

In the last matchup at the Barclay’s Center between the two teams the Aces offense struggled as they got blown out. In this matchup it was much of the same with the Aces struggling in the second quarter getting outscored 26-16. The Aces shot 5-15 and 0-5 from three in the second quarter well the Liberty shot 58% from the field and 50% from three. A’ja Wilson and Chelsea Gray scored all 16 of the Aces points in the quarter. Gray scored all her points in the quarter from the free throw line shooting 6-8 from the line and 0-3 from the field. The Aces finished the game shooting 44 percent from the field and 39 percent form three.

“Defense is a huge difference especially when shots may not be falling on the offensive end.” “It seems like in every loss it’s always one quarter that bites us and its on the defensive end thats where it starts,” Wilson said. “We had some disconnects and we can not have those but overall I feel pretty confident in the way we ended the game.”

Aces backcourt struggle while Liberty’s backcourt thrives

Kelsey Plum and Chelsea Gray combined for 40 points in the last meeting between the Liberty and the Aces. Both guards struggled to get it going shooting a combined 7-28 from the field. Kelsey Plum fouled out for the Aces with 3 minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Liberty backcourt of Ionescu and Vandersloot combined for 42 points on 15-26 from the field. Ionescu shot 5-10 from three and had 17 points at the half.

“It is somebody different all the time and its not just one person and she had 17 at the half and ends with 25,” Hammon said. “Why did she get 17 at half because we are not locked in and doing our job with the type of intensity and focus that we need.”

The Aces will return home Thursday to take on the Mystics with tip off set for 7 pm.