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AU recap: Naz Hillmon moves into first place with double-double in her second game

Naz Hillmon’s Team Williams is 2-0, allowing her to secure enough points for first place in Athletes Unlimited women’s basketball through two days.

Atlanta Dream v Las Vegas Aces
Naz Hillmon (with ball)
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Naz Hillmon had seven points, eight rebounds and three assists in Game 1 of Athletes Unlimited 2023, as her team, Team Courtney Williams, defeated Team Odyssey Sims 96-93 in overtime.

Hillmon’s stats from that Thursday night game don’t blow you away, but with the win and a double-double in another win Friday night, she has ascended to first place in the AU individual standings.

Hillmon’s 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting to go along with 12 rebounds in Team Williams’ 75-67 Friday win over Team Natasha Cloud earned her MVP honors and therefore 549 total points to lead the contest.

Hillmon benefited from Team Williams winning each of the first two quarters, but missed out on some extra points when the team lost the third quarter. It lost the fourth quarter as well — barely. Hillmon was actually the one to foul Cloud with one second left, allowing Cloud to sink the quarter-winning free throws.

A Cloud pick-6 cut her team’s deficit to 70-63 with 3:34 to go, so Team Cloud was in it until almost the very end. Layshia Clarendon answered with a right corner three to make it 73-63 before Cloud made a deep two to cut it to 73-65 at 2:29 remaining. Nobody scored again until a Williams mid-range make with six ticks left.

Team Cloud cut it to one twice in the third, but was unable to tie or take the lead. After Jordin Canada’s free throws at the 4:53 mark of the frame cut it to 50-49, Cloud missed two threes, either of which would have given her team the lead. Theresa Plaisance scored inside at 3:11 to make it 52-49.

Jasmine Walker cut it to 52-51 with two free throws at 2:48, but Team Williams then closed the third on a 9-0 run. Hillmon got an offensive rebound and layup to make it 54-51 and then hit a mid-range shot that made it 56-51. Air Hearn followed with a triple that made it 59-51 and then closed the frame with a transition layup.

Team Cloud cut it to seven twice in the second quarter, but would get no closer in the frame. A Canada 3-point play with 1:54 remaining before halftime cut it to 38-31. Evina Westbrook, who was the No. 3 MVP of the game after Hillmon and Canada, made two free throws to push Team Williams’ lead to 40-31. Team Cloud’s Kristi Bellock had a nice stretch after that where she blocked Hillmon and then hit from mid-range on the other end to cut it to 40-33. But Team Williams closed the second on a 4-0 run with a layup from Hearn and a steal-turned-transition mid-range make by Williams.

Team Cloud was down just three with 2:51 remaining in the first, but Team Williams closed the frame on a 6-0 run. Westbrook made a layup, Hearn made 2-of-3 at the line and Clarendon hit from mid-range.

Westbrook’s No. 3 MVP nod allowed her to finish with 408 total points. Canada notched 17 points, six assists and three steals to finish with 352 total points, the high for Team Cloud.