Las Vegas, NV—The Las Vegas Aces looked like they haven’t missed a beat during the off season. The Aces moved the ball well and played unselfish basketball for quarters.
The Aces (1-0) didn’t waste any time, they had a double-digit lead after one quarter, and a 20-point advantage at the break, beating the NY Liberty (0-2) 84-77 in their first preseason game. Kelsey Plum led the way with 22 points, while A’ja Wilson chipped in 17 and Chelsea Gray added 15 points.
“I took it as a preseason game, 100 percent,” Wilson said. “This isn’t going to be the team we see in the regular season, for them or us.”
Former MVP Breanna Stewart scored nine points on 3-of-19 shooting, and Jonquel Jones added six points and only took six shots in the game in their first game with the Liberty. All-Star point guard Courtney Vandersloot was ruled inactive before the game.
New York came firing on a cylinders and led by six early, but the Aces settle down and scored nine straight and 16 of the final 18 points of the quarter to go up by 7. Plum scored 10 points in the quarter on 4 of 5 shooting from the court.
Las Vegas scored the first 6 points of the quarter, and used a 9-0 run midway through the period to go up 20. A’ja Wilson was a perfect 3 for 3 from the field, and scored a game-high 9 points in the second. Wilson, Plum and Chelsea Gray outscored the Liberty 43-30 in the first 20 minutes.
Las Vegas coach Becky Hammon said she was happy to give her players some run in a competitive environment, but also said the team is already preparing for its first game of the regular season May 20 at the Seattle Storm.
“You can kind of feel the energy, start feeling each other out there and build the chemistry,” Hammon said. “We’re just going to continue down that road and continue to hammer home our basics offensively and defensively.”
The Liberty was led by 14 points each from guard Sabrina Ionescu and forward Betnijah Laney.
Both teams played their benches for the whole fourth quarter, New York’s Jocelyn Willoughby scored a game-high 8 points in that frame. The Liberty made 66.7 percent of their shots from the field in the quarter, while Las Vegas connected on just 25.0 percent.
The Aces made 47.6 percent of their field goal attempts in the first half compared to 31.6 percent for the Liberty.
Las Vegas established their selves in the paint outscoring New York 28-10 in the paint in the first half.
Riquna Williams did not dress for the Aces, and neither did Courtney Vandersloot and Marine Johannes for the Liberty.
The Aces begin defense of their 2022 WNBA Championship at Seattle on Saturday May 20. Tip is slated for 12 pm PT on ABC.