The Las Vegas Aces (10-3) were all smiles as everyone got in on the fun of a 103-76 victory over the New York Liberty (6-6) on Thursday night at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas.
“(Having fans is) going to push our team,” said Aces coach Bill Laimbeer. “They really like playing in front of the fans, they want to put on a show. And tonight I thought we put on a pretty good show for them.”
Riquna Williams went on an individual 11-2 run against the Liberty that increased the Aces’ lead from five to 14 in the middle of the second quarter and Vegas never looked back. Williams, known as “The Microwave” scored those 11 points over a one minute, 25-second span and didn’t score the rest of the game.
“She scored 50 points in a game in this league, I mean come on,” Laimbeer said of Williams. “When she’s hot, she’s hot.”
Everybody had their moment for the Aces. A’ja Wilson had a similarly dominant run where she scored 10 points in two minutes and 39 seconds in the third. By the end of that run, Vegas led by 27, which is the margin it won by.
“We’re trying to figure out who does what and when somebody’s hot keep riding that horse,” Aces coach Bill Laimbeer said. “We have a lot of offensive weapons, we know that.”
The Aces got 41 points from their bench, including a team-high 18 from Kelsey Plum, and saw all 10 of their players reach the scoring column. Joyner Holmes allowed the team to complete that feat when she hit a 3-pointer with 57 seconds remaining.
“I think we have the best team one through 12,” said Aces forward Dearica Hamby, who added 10 points, 12 rebounds and five assists to the bench effort. “Bill’s always done a good job of orchestrating his bench. And we had a meeting not too long ago about how he envisioned this bench with this team. And I think we kind of proved him right tonight.”
Plum, who scored a career-high 32 in her last outing, added a game-high seven assists. Wilson finished with 17 points and seven rebounds while Chelsea Gray went for 15 points and six helpers. Liz Cambage posted a solid 13-point, nine-rebound effort and JiSu Park added to the bench fun with seven points, eight rebounds and three of Vegas’ 10 blocks. Jackie Young (six points, five rebounds) and Destiny Slocum (three points) rounded out the team effort.
The Aces made 11 threes in the contest. They entered the game averaging just 4.6 per game on the season.
Betnijah Laney led New York with 20 points and has scored 20-plus in 10 of 12 games this year. Reshanda Gray and Rebecca Allen (five rebounds, four steals) added 17 and 14 points, respectively.
The Aces have won five games in a row and three of them, including the last two, were against the Liberty. With Connecticut’s loss, the they moved up to 1.5 games ahead of the Sun in second place. They are 1.5 behind the first-place Storm. Meanwhile, the Liberty are tied for the Sparks in fourth place as there are only three teams in the league with winning records.
Chicago Sky (6-7) over Connecticut Sun (8-4), 81-75
Kahleah Copper scored 18 points and had eight rebounds as the Sky won a key game against a team ahead of them in the standings. However, the Sun were without their best player in Jonquel Jones.
Chicago is now 5-0 with Candace Parker, who had 15 points and eight boards on Thursday. Courtney Vandersloot did her part in the win as well, notching 12 points, 10 assists and four steals. Diamond DeShields was good for 13 points and six rebounds while Allie Quigley added 11 points off the bench.
Jasmine Thomas posted 20 points in defeat while Kaila Charles added 15 points and seven rebounds.
The Sky led 81-68 with 1:19 to go before the Sun finished the game on a 7-0 run that was to no avail. Chicago trailed by five at halftime before winning the third by nine.
The Sky have followed a seven-game losing streak with four-straight wins.
Minnesota Lynx (5-6) over Dallas Wings (5-7), 85-73
Kayla McBride led the Lynx with 22 points while Napheesa Collier had 19 and Sylvia Fowles had 14 to go along with 12 rebounds and three steals. Damiris Dantas added nine points and six boards and Layshia Clarendon was good for eight points and a game-high five assists.
The Lynx opened the fourth on a 10-0 run and led by at least 10 the rest of the way. It was a 15-1 run if you go back to the third quarter. The game was last tied at 3:29 remaining in the third and Dallas’ last lead was taken away by a McBride three with 4:28 to go in the frame.
Minnesota led by 10 at halftime and by 12 early in the third before Dallas went on a 13-0 run.
Arike Ogunbowale notched 20 points in defeat, but her co-star, Marina Mabrey, was held scoreless on 0-of-8 shooting from the field. Mabrey entered the game averaging 16.9 points per game.
Seattle Storm (12-2) over Indiana Fever (1-13), 79-69
The last-place Fever trailed the first-place Storm by just three with 6:31 to go in the fourth, but Seattle went on a 10-1 run from there. Six points on that run came from Breanna Stewart, who led all scorers with 21 and all rebounders with 15 boards.
Jewell Loyd added 15 points, five rebounds and four assists to the winning cause while Sue Bird contributed 13 points, seven helpers and three steals. Katie Lou Samuelson (10 points) rounded out the Storm’s double-figure scorers.
Teaira McCowan (13 points, 10 rebounds) and Jessica Breland (10 points, 11 rebounds) both had double-doubles in defeat.