WNBA Saturday night began on a historic note as Washington Mystics Head Coach Mike Thibault became the first WNBA head coach to reach 300 wins. Thibault’s record came on the heels of the Mystics’ win over the LA Sparks. What followed that matchup was an upset victory for the Chicago Sky over the Minnesota Lynx, while the Aces pulled off a comeback to protect the house against the Connecticut Sun.
Stars came out for Sin City matchup
Las Vegas Aces (94) vs. Connecticut Sun (90)
The unquestioned game of the night was the Connecticut Sun visiting the Las Vegas Aces. It was a back-and-forth game filled with numerous ebbs and flows in front of a loud and energetic crowd. The stars were out for this one, and those who came out to watch left with an understanding of why the WNBA is the highest level of basketball in the world.
Dame and DeMar at the Aces game tonight pic.twitter.com/JU5qsYOwgR— Charles LaRocca (@CLaRoccaJr) July 8, 2018
It was a back-and-forth affair with both teams making their runs. It appeared that the Sun were going to pull away in the third quarter when they forced the Aces into turnovers and were able to build a lead by getting out in transition. Sun reserve Morgan Tuck would hit three shots from behind the arc in the third period to push the lead to 11 heading into the final period.
Then the fourth quarter happened and A’ja Wilson and Kayla McBride took over. The Aces started the fourth with a small lineup of Kelsey Plum, Moriah Jefferson and McBride. This lineup gave the Aces another ball-handler on the floor, which gave the Sun trouble. The extra ball-handler opened up spacing inside for Wilson, and it provided a push in the tempo. Wilson and McBride both scored 9 fourth-quarter points to erase the 11-point deficit. But it was Plum who perhaps had the biggest shot of the night to tie it at all 87.
Kelsey Plum for three and this place just erupted pic.twitter.com/9tPdYdAmtP— Charles LaRocca (@CLaRoccaJr) July 8, 2018
This was a huge win for the Aces, who won a tight one at home and had the arena absolutely rocking. It was a fantastic way to close out a Saturday in Vegas and the fans who attended left for home, happy. On the flip side for the Suns, this was a disappointing result. They had every opportunity to close this out but their defense fell apart in the fourth quarter. If the Sun end up missing out on the playoffs, they can look at games like tonight as the reason why.
WELCOME TO 300!
Washington Mystics (83) vs. Los Angeles Sparks (74)
In a matchup between two coaches with the most wins in WNBA history, the Mystics soundly defeated the Sparks. Mystics Head Coach Mike Thibault notched his 300th career win making him the first WNBA head coach to do so. The Mystics were led by Kristi Toliver, who finished with 18 points. She did most of her damage at the line where she went 13-13. Her relentless attacking kept the Sparks on their toes and forced them into foul trouble. Toliver would take as many free throws as the entire Sparks team.
The Sparks were led by Nneka Ogwumike, who had 22 points and 13 rebounds. Chelsea Gray also added in a game-high 23 points for the Sparks, but LA got few contributions elsewhere, and their usually solid defense showed some leaks inside which led to the Mystics taking advantage at the line.
The Sky is falling for the Lynx
Minnesota Lynx (63) vs. Chicago Sky (77)
The Lynx continue to be up and down. It looked as if they were about to turn their slow start around and look like the Lynx team that we’re used to seeing but, alas, they are back to mediocrity.
The Lynx were ice cold the entire game and, besides Maya Moore, they could not generate any semblance of consistency on offense. The Sky defense did a great job of closing out and contesting Lynx shooters, forcing them into a 5-18 night from behind the arc. The Sky, on the other hand, made it rain from downtown, going 9-17 from distance. In a game where neither team brought their best, the three-point shooting was the difference. Courtney Vandersloot led the way for the Sky, stuffing the stat sheet with 12 points, 9 assist and 7 rebounds.