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Recap: New York Liberty top Las Vegas Aces behind sharp shooting from Sabrina Ionescu

The New York Liberty evened the regular-season series with the Las Vegas Aces at 2-2 with Monday night’s 94-85 win.

Las Vegas Aces v New York Liberty
The Liberty’s Sabrina Ionescu drains another 3-pointer over the close out from the Aces’ Kierstan Bell.
Photo by Michelle Farsi/Getty Images

The No. 2 seed New York Liberty (28-7) took care of business on Monday night, beating the No. 1 seed Las Vegas Aces (30-6) 94-85, evening the regular-season series at 2-2 and closing the gap in the standings between the two teams to just a game and a half.

The Liberty had multiple players dominate. Sabrina Ionescu led the way with 25 points as she shot 5-for-10 from the 3-point line. Breanna Stewart started slowly but ended the night with 20 points and 12 rebounds, while Courtney Vandersloot also had a double-double with 17 points and 10 assists.

For the first time this season, Las Vegas has lost back-to-back games. On Thursday, they will aim to stop their two-game slide when they play the Washington Mystics, who defeated them on Saturday. New York will look to make it five wins in a row when they host Connecticut on Friday.

Key observations

Although New York was in control most of the game, Las Vegas came out to a roaring start. Jackie Young hit back-to-back field goals and the Aces jumped out to a 10-4 lead. Ionescu then responded by scoring 10 of her team’s next 14 points, allowing New York to take a three-point lead into the second quarter.

It was a back-and-forth affair to start the second, but, midway through the quarter, New York began pulling away. Courtney Vandersloot was sensational, dishing the ball and attacking the basket as the Liberty closed the half on a 20-9 run, giving them a 12-point lead at halftime.

Rebounding proved a problem for Vegas, as New York dominated the glass, 43-31. Jonquel Jones had a tough offensive game, going 1-for-8 from the field, but made her presence known by grabbing 10 boards. Stewart led the team with 12 rebounds. Once her scoring increased in the second half, it became too much for the Aces to overcome.

The Liberty maintained the lead throughout the third and sealed the game for good after a Betnijah Laney layup gave New York a 15-point advantage with 4:42 left in the game. The Aces had one more run left in them, but it was too little too late as they could not close the gap.

Closing thoughts

The Liberty have made their case as the best team in the WNBA, and they are playing their best basketball at the perfect time. Including the Commissioner’s Cup Championship, they’ve beaten the Aces three times in five tries.

Vegas’ time as the clear favorite has passed. We’ll see if they can hold on to their No. 1 seed, as they have very little wiggle room. New York has only five games left to make up the 1.5-game gap so they may run out of time to take the No. 1 spot. But, you have to like their chances of beating Vegas in a WNBA Finals series, regardless of which team is the No. 1 seed.