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Hoops Happening: Today in women’s basketball (and beyond) — Monday May 28, 2018

Aces lose to Storm at Mandalay Bay home opener, but still win big. Plus, Mystics defeat champs to remain undefeated on the season, while Sparks beat Mercury in hot-mess matchup.

Seattle Storm v Las Vegas Aces
A’ja Wilson (#22), Kayla McBride (#21) and Nia Coffee (#12) put on a show in Las Vegas on Sunday May 27, 2018 at Mandalay Bay Events Center.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Sunday’s matchups promised to be an exciting exhibition of basketball, and boy did they deliver. But it was the flashy Aces’ inaugural home opener in primetime that gave basketball fans the sweetest treat.

First, let’s get salty.

As stated on May 7 following the Aces’ first preseason game of the 2018 season: A’ja Wilson and the Aces put the league on notice. This comment drew social media criticism from the stodgy, old-guard basketball analysts, given that Vegas’ win came “only” in a preseason matchup and “only” against the China National Team rather than a WNBA team. In lieu of clapping back, I decided to let A’ja Wilson and the Aces validate my previous assessment (which was based on knowledge of her game with the South Carolina Gamecocks and other factors).

20 days later ...

A’ja and the Aces (not to be mistaken for a Doo-wop girl group of the 1960’s) did just that.

Facing the championship-contending Seattle Storm — known for its firepower and, this season, for its depth — A’ja Wilson scored 27 points and grabbed 8 rebounds with her former college coach, Dawn Staley, in attendance.

But Wilson was not alone in turning it on when it counted. Fresh of a long overseas season, Kayla McBride chipped in 21 points. Nia Coffey and Tamera Young contributed 23 and 12 points, respectively ... in the 105-98 loss.

A perfect loss

Sunday’s loss to the Storm puts the Las Vegas Aces down 0-3 to start the season. But the way they lost this one shows promise for the team that absolutely should put the league on notice. In addition to dominant scoring by key players, the Aces as a team:

  • only lost by 7 points (two possessions, and-1)
  • tied the game at one point
  • held the lead once (!!!)
  • won Q3 by 7 points and Q4 by 4 points

It is only a matter of time before the Aces figure out how to make in-game adjustments that prevent them from falling too far behind; they were behind 53-35 at halftime. But the team showed in this one that they already know how to finish down the stretch. Even though they came up short, they succeeded in not letting the Storm get an easy win.

Complete game results

Mystics (90) vs. Lynx (78)

The Mystics got an upset victory over the reigning WNBA champs to remain undefeated (0-4) to start the season. The Mystics starters were mostly silenced by the Lynx defense, so it was Kristi Toliver’s sharpshooting, and strong performances from the bench players, that got Washington the win. Toliver finished with 19 points — a whopping 15 of which came from three-point shots. Off the bench, Myisha Hines-Allen contributed an impressive double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds, while Natasha Cloud and Ariel Atkins chipped in 14 points apiece.

Sparks (80) vs. Mercury (72)

Only a bullet list will do for this hot mess of a matchup:

  • Candace Parker returned from a back injury but came off the bench behind Alana Beard.
  • After picking up four fouls, Parker warmed the bench for much of the game ... which was weird.
  • The game was tied six times and there were seven lead changes, but Phoenix did not seize Parker’s foul trouble for the prime opportunity that it was.
  • The Mercury’s lack of effort, especially in the fourth quarter, showed up in the team’s body language. Think: Bored teenagers working a slow shift at Target, counting the minutes until they can clock out, go home and play video games. Disappointing ... and weird.
  • If not for Diana Taurasi Brittney Griner DeWanna Bonner Sancho Lyttle (!!!), this would have been a Sparks-created dumpster fire of a blowout win for LA.
  • Things got ugly in the third with Taurasi shoving Beard with her shoulder and the two exchanging words. Even the game announcers couldn’t see how Essence Carson played into the conflict, but Carson and Taurasi both were slapped with technical fouls.

Sparks got it done, thanks to the Tricky Trio of Nneka Ogwumike, Chelsea Gray and Odyssey Sims. Gray put up a game-high 23 points and 8 assists, while Ogwumike went for 18 points and 8 rebounds. Sims contributed 14 points (plus, a bunch of bad-ass sh*t that doesn’t show up in the box score).

Storm (105) vs. Aces (98)

The Storm used their best weapons to eke out the win over the Aces, with the following players scoring 20 points or more: Breanna Stewart (23), Natasha Howard (21), and Jewell Loyd (20). But other players were in double figures, too, including Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Sue Bird, with 13 and 10, respectively. Stewart and Courtney Paris each had 9 rebounds and Jewell Loyd finished with 9 assists.

Up next in the WNBA

The women of the WNBA have the day off from competition.

Six teams compete on Tuesday May 29, including two games that will stream live on Twitter.


Game of the night



Play of the night

Kristi Toliver’s three-point shootout was a thing of beauty

Links Appeal

Everyday Sexism, Everyday Racism — Literally. Every. Day.

How to #WatchThemWork all season

Shine brighter. C’mon! You can do it. * flicker flicker *