Las Vegas, NV—-The Las Vegas Aces has been playing really well the last few weeks and each game they play, the Aces are gaining more confidence and swagger.
Jackie Young poured in 28 points, A’ja Wilson chipped in 14 and 12 boards and the Las Vegas Aces defeated the Seattle Storm 96-63 on Thursday night at Michelob Ultra Arena.
The Aces scored 90-plus points for the ninth time this season and held Seattle to 38% shooting for the night.
“I’m excited to see where we are as a group,” Quinn said. “A couple of things have changed since that game. Our rookies are playing some big minutes and I think our defense is getting better.
“We’re trending in a lot of positive directions. It’s not a barometer as far as the Aces are the defending champs, but seeing that we’re getting better every single day and game — that’s our gauge.”
Young drained a deep trey to cap off a 12-0 spurt for a 43-35 lead with 1:07 left in the second quarter. Las Vegas extended their lead to 47-37 at the half after Kelsey Plum made a layup before the buzzer went off. Young, Plum, and Wilson all scored in double figures in the first half as Las Vegas shot 56% from the hardwood.
Young scored 12 points in the third quarter to help Las Vegas build a 67-52 lead entering the fourth. Gray’s behind-the-back assist to Kierstan Bell made it 84-59.
Plum finished with 19 points for the surging Aces (9-1). Candace Parker had seven points and six assists, and Gray chipped in eight points and nine assists.
Ezi Magbegor scored 23 points and 11 boards, and Jewell Loyd chipped in 17 points for Seattle (2-7). Ivana Dojkic added 16 points. The Storm’s bench players combined for just one point on 0-for-7 shooting from the field.
“I thought we were better than the first time we played them,” coach Noelle Quinn said. “That is an amazing team over there. It’s not measuring up to them, but just our progress.”
Quinn highlighted Magbegor and Dojkic, who each scored seven points in the earlier meeting against Las Vegas, as signs of improvement.
“Ezi is playing at a high level,” Quinn said. “That’s difficult to do in this league consistently. She understands that she has to give us a little bit more on the offensive end. She’s being aggressive. She’s worked on her three, so she’s capable and her rebounds matter for us. She’s our defensive anchor, and we rely on her heavily. To see her growth, especially this year with this group is good to see.”
Thanks to Jewell Loyd scoring nine of her 17 points in the third quarter, the Storm began the fourth down 67-52.
The Storm fell apart and just hit 4 of 14 field goals while allowing Las Vegas to hit 12 of 17 shots. The Aces outscored the Storm 29-11 in the fourth quarter, which drew some similarities to their first matchup when Las Vegas had a 31-16 scoring edge in the final frame.
Similar to the first game, Seattle lost control of the game in the second quarter and got the doors blown off in the fourth.
“Maybe because of a couple of mistakes, we got punished,” Dojkic said. “Then we are not able to bounce back. Of course, they’re a great team so every time we were not 100% focused, they used that and took advantage. In these moments I think we should just believe more and try to get back in the rhythm of the game.”
Magbegor, Loyd, and Dojkic accounted for 56 points, while the remaining nine players combined for seven points on 2-for-5 shooting from the hardwood.
“We’re going to need Jade Melbourne and we’re going to need Cedes Mercedes Russell,” Quinn said when asked about Seattle’s bench, which collectively produced just one point and seven rebounds. “I know Sami Whitcomb didn’t hit any today, but when she does, we’re a better team.
Seattle concludes its three-game road trip Saturday against Dallas (5-5).