Liberty knock off the Aces to win Commissioner Cup

Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Liberty defeat the Las Vegas Aces 83-62 to take home the Commissioner's Cup championship.

LAS VEGAS — The New York Liberty are the WNBA Commissioner’s Cup champions after knocking off the Las Vegas Aces, 83-62, with Jonquel Jones being name Commissioner’s Cup MVP.

After beating the Aces in their last matchup in Brooklyn, the New York Liberty came into Las Vegas and became the first team to beat the Aces on their home court to win the title.

Jackie Young led the Aces with 16 points, while Chelsea Gray and Kelsey Plum had 15 points each.

Marine Johannes led the Liberty with 17 points, followed by Jonquel Jones who finished with 16 points and 15 rebounds, Breanna Stewart added 13 points.

In a game where the Aces would struggle offensively to start the game shooting 4-21 from the field and 0-9 from three they would fight and get themselves back into the game. The Aces ended the first half on an 11-0 run, capped by a Jackie Young basket, to take their first lead of the game since 2-0, at 34-32. Things got away from the Aces late in the third quarter when New York regained the lead and headed into the fourth quarter up 8. The Aces would go cold again in the fourth quarter, shooting 35% from the field, while the Liberty were getting anything they wanted, shooting 61%. Three-pointers were a major difference in the game, with the Liberty shooting 15 and the Aces only making 5. The Aces also lost the rebounding battle 49-28, allowing New York to gain second chances. Jonquel Jones was crowned Commissioner’s Cup MVP after a strong effort of 16 points and 15 rebounds on 50% shooting.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

Aces fall behind early

A game featuring two of the highest scoring teams in the WNBA would get off to a slow start with the two teams going scoreless for the first 4 minutes. A’ja Wilson would get the scoring started knocking down two free throws giving the Aces the lead. New York would hold the Aces 4-21 shooting from the field and lead after one 17-11. Both teams would get it going in the second half and the Aces would take the lead but it would be short lived as the Liberty would get hot in the second half. The Liberty held a single digit lead heading into the fourth quarter before they got hot from beyond the arc. New York outscored the Aces 26-15 in the fourth quarter. Sabrina Ionescu, the reigning three-point champion, got hot in the fourth quarter, scoring 9 of her 12 points while hitting 3-3 from three. New York also made it tough for the Aces clogging the paint all night and their half court defense gave the Aces a lot of trouble. Wilson finished the game in single digits for the second time against the Liberty with 9 points on 2-10 shooting.

“I mean it’s tough whenever we aren’t hitting threes,” Young said. We did not make very many tonight but we put in a lot of work so we are going to stay confident and take the open ones. Coach talks about good too great a lot and we just have to make the plays and make the right reads and really just hit shots we really did not hit shots tonight.”

Liberty Dominate the Boards

The Aces front court was challenged again with a big Liberty team that is top 2 in the league in rebounding. Rebounding would be a close battle at the half with New York out-rebounding the Aces 24-21. Things completely changed in the second half as it seemed like the Liberty were the first one to every 50-50 ball and every long rebound. The Aces were limited to just 4 rebounds in the second half, while the Liberty grabbed 24 rebounds. Commissioner Cup MVP Jonquel Jones lead the charge grabbing 10 of her 15 rebounds in the second half.

“They were able to get O boards and kickouts whether it’s somebody securing it or just tapping it out to somebody beyond the arc,” Gray said. “I know there was a few that Stewie just knocked out to the three point line and they were able to knock it down.”

“We had 24 rebounds at halftime we ended the game with 28,” Hammon said. “I don’t know if I have ever seen that ever in my life.”

Liberty Bench comes up huge

One of the biggest differences in the game was the Liberty bench which outscored the Aces bench 28-8 led by Marine Johannes. Johannes was huge for the Liberty off the bench with her ability to knock down big shots from the three point line finishing with 17 points on 5-7 shooting from three. Kayla Thornton also was a huge contributor off the bench for the Liberty scoring 8 points but also her rebounding ability tipping the ball out allowing the Liberty to have extra opportunities.

“Marine she’s special we love Marine and we always want her to be aggressive,” Brondello said. I think she overthinks it a little bit and its like don’t overthink Marine just shoot it thats what we do.”

“KT (Kayla Thornton) she is just a defensive anchor for us and made some really big threes,” Brondello said. “Those little things help because they rely on so much of their starters and we can go to the bench and they can come in and give us great energy at both ends of the floors.”

The Aces will put this one behind them and have another shot against the Liberty again on Thursday with tip off set 7 p.m. PT.