Brooklyn, NY–A’ja Wilson was just too much for the Liberty and the Las Vegas Aces secured their place as one of the greatest teams in WNBA history.
Wilson scored 24 points and 16 boards, the Aces came back from 12 points down to beat the New York Liberty 70-69 in Game 4 of the WNBA fInals, taking the series 3-1. It was Las Vegas’ second consecutive championship under coach Becky Hammon, and they are the WNBA’s first back-to-back champions since the Los Angeles Sparks won it all in 2001 and 2002.
“A lot of people picked Liberty in five (games),” said Aces A’ja Wilson. “We know, we see it. That stuff fueled us.”
Both teams traded runs for the first three and a half quarters, it was knotted at 60-all with 5:26 left to play in the game. Then the teams traded baskets until, with 8.8 seconds left and trailing by one, 70-69, New York called a timeout and drew up a play for Breanna Stewart and it rimmed out.
“I put the ball in the hands of the (2023) MVP,” said New York coach Sandy Brondello. “It just didn’t work out. I’d do it again. It was the right call.”
New York took a 10-point lead after the first, but the Aces answered with a 5-0 run to open the second quarter. The Liberty ended the half on an 8-0 run to take a 39-30 lead at the break. Neither team shot well in the first half, which helped the shorthanded Aces to stay close. The Aces hit 13-of-35 from the field in the first half, and the Liberty went 14-of-36.
The Aces came out of the halftime break on fire. Wilson scored nine straight points in the third quarter for Las Vegas to trim the Liberty’s lead, which Clark erased on a layup with 34.9 seconds remaining in the quarter that tied the game 51-51. The Aces ended the frame on a 9-0 run and outscored the Libs 23-12 in the quarter to take a two-point lead heading into the final period.
Four Aces scored in double figures, including Clark (10) and Cayla George (11), who both started with Gray and Stokes out. Clark also grabbed eight rebounds. Jackie Young chipped in 16 points.
“It’s who we are. We’re professionals. We’re ready when our name is called. And we kept the main thing the main thing,” Wilson said. “This s*** wasn’t easy at all, and a lot of people counted us out. A lot of people counted us out from jump. A lot of people in here said, ‘Liberty in five.’ We know. So that just fueled us.
“People counted us out as back-to-back champions. So, like, that s*** fueled us. We read it. We see it. And it fueled us, so thank you. That says a lot about us. We came ready to play, and everybody doubted us. We just kept the foot on the gas.”
New York was led by Vandersloot, who finished with 19 points.
New York’s record fell to 2-10 all-time in the WNBA Finals. Teams that fall behind 0-2 in the best-of-five series Finals have lost all nine of those series.