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Recap: Plum helps Aces come back in game important to double-bye race

Kelsey Plum accomplished something that no bench player has ever done in the history of the WNBA to lead the Las Vegas Aces past the Dallas Wings.

Dallas Wings v Las Vegas Aces
Kelsey Plum was two off her career high on Monday.
Photo by Jeff Bottari/NBAE via Getty Images

Kelsey Plum became the first bench player in WNBA history with 30 points and five assists in a game and did it while shooting 75 percent from the field and leading the Las Vegas Aces to a come-from-behind, 85-75 victory over the Dallas Wings on Monday afternoon at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas.

“She’s gonna be the sixth person of the year, if not something’s wrong,” said Aces head coach Bill Laimbeer. “You know, dropping 30 off the bench, winning a big, important game for us.”

The win means that the Aces can clinch the No. 2 seed and a double-bye in the playoffs with one more win or one more Minnesota Lynx loss.

A Jackie Young mid-air put-back at the buzzer of the third gave the Aces a four-point lead and a jolt of excitement entering the final frame. The score came after Young stole the ball in the backcourt, passed it to Dearica Hamby (who missed) and got a rebound mid-air.

A 16-4 Vegas run had taken the score from 51-41 Wings to 57-55 Aces. Plum scored 11 points during that run and Riquna Williams made the three that tied it at 2:22 remaining in the third before an A’ja Wilson jumper gave Vegas the at 1:13 in the third. After Young’s big play, she made another backcourt steal that led to a Plum three, which put the Aces up seven 55 seconds into the fourth.

Dallas hung around for much of the fourth, but Vegas would go on to lead by as much as 13 in the frame, which was Dallas’ biggest lead of the night as well.

The Aces had their struggles in this game, but they were able to turn it on and take control when it mattered most, a good sign as the playoffs approach.

Plum was 5-of-7 from downtown.

Wilson finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds and two steals. Williams had 16 points while Young (six rebounds, three assists, four steals) and Chelsea Gray (three assists, two steals) each had eight. Arike Ogunbowale had 23 points and eight rebounds in defeat.

The Aces cut their deficit from 10 to six in the first 1:49 of the second, forcing a Dallas timeout. But Ogunbowale hit a three right out of the timeout to extend the lead back to nine and rookie Chelsea Dungee showed off her shooting skills with a deep two to push it to 11. The Wings led by 13 with 6:22 to play in the frame. Vegas kept trying to chip away, but never got closer than six in the quarter and trailed by nine at the break.

Ogunbowale, Allisha Gray, Marina Mabrey and Kayla Thornton combined for 41 of Dallas’ 45 first-half points. Mabrey had five assists at the break and No. 1 draft pick Charli Collier had six boards. The team shot 50 percent from the field and from beyond the arc over the first two quarters to counteract attempting six-less free throws than the Aces. Ogunbowale was 6-of-8 from the field and 4-of-6 from distance.

In the second half, Ogunbowale was 3-of-13 from the field and 0-of-6 from deep and the Wings’ field goal percentage as a team fell to 41.9 percent.

The Aces never take a lot of threes, but usually they’re efficient. A 1-of-7 effort in the first half hurt. They improved to 6-of-12 in the final two frames.

The Wings came out and made a statement that they could be dangerous in the playoffs, winning the opening frame 29-19 and leading by as much as 12. Ogunbowale was 3-of-4 from distance with 11 points.

“(29’s) way too much,” Plum said of the points surrendered by her team in the first quarter. “Especially on home court. And they were scoring on the same actions. So we were not communicating, not following the scout. It’s just a lack of focus really. (Assistant coach) Tanisha (Wright) really jumped on us and challenged us to be better. And I thought we got better as the game went along.”

San Antonio Silver Star legend Becky Hammon was honored at halftime when her No. 25 jersey was raised to the rafters.