FSM Essential Recap: Aces vs. Mercury – Semifinals Game 1

Franchise Sports Media

Las Vegas Aces (1-0)  |  Phoenix Mercury (0-1)



The Las Vegas Aces opened up their 2021 postseason slate with a 96-90 home win over the fifth-seeded Phoenix Mercury. Riquna Williams led all scorers with 26 points and Kelsey Plum followed with 25 off the bench. 




Franchise Sports Media - Aces vs Mercury
Photo Credit: Trisha LaCoste – Franchise Sports Media

Phoenix raced to a 13-7 start behind some hot shooting from behind the arc. Diana Taurasi drained one before Kia Nurse sunk two from downtown that didn’t even touch the rim. Riquna Williams scored the next eight points for the Aces to keep the game competitive early on. However, Phoenix would respond after a media timeout with four unanswered points to extend their lead to seven. Las Vegas struggled to find and answers on the defensive end. Taurasi’s nine first-quarter points led the Mercury en route to a 30-21 lead after one.

Williams picked up where she left off from her 14-point first quarter, connecting on a three-pointer to begin the second frame. A’ja Wilson and Liz Cambage then helped orchestrate a 15-5 run capped by a slick behind-the-back pass from Chelsea Gray to Jackie Young, putting the Aces ahead 44-41. Phoenix wouldn’t go away, though. They closed the quarter strong behind some nifty passing from Taurasi and a spirited effort from Brianna Turner to keep the score close. Chelsea Gray used one of her signature left-to-right dribble pull-ups to send Vegas into the half with a 52-49 lead. 

Defensive breakdowns on the first few possessions of the half led to a few easy scoring opportunities for the Mercury, which they took full advantage of. But Vegas responded with a mini-spurt to energize the crowd and re-take a 61-56 lead, highlighted by a Liz Cambage three from the top of the key. In typical Kelsey Plum fashion, she started her third-quarter takeover with a 5-0 run to help put the Aces on top by six. She’d close the quarter on a second 5-0 run, giving the Aces a 76-66 lead heading into the fourth and final quarter.


Franchise Sports Media - Aces vs Mercury
Photo Credit: Terrance Quaites – Franchise Sports Media

Both teams were a bit cold to begin the final quarter, and the score reflected it through the first three minutes. Phoenix eventually got going on offense and drew within three points as the Aces continued to turn the ball over and commit silly offensive fouls. Plum hit a corner three that was followed by a Chelsea Gray pull-up jumper, and suddenly Las Vegas found themselves back up by eight. A’ja Wilson used a personal 6-0 run to extend the lead to double digits, which put the Aces comfortably ahead with just minutes to go. Yet, a Taurasi layup narrowed the Mercury deficit to six points and a Griner middy to four points with under 30 seconds to play. Phoenix had a chance to cut it to one with a deep transition three from Kia Nurse, but it fell short, and the Aces played the free-throw game the rest of the way en route to a  96-90 win in Game 1 of the WNBA Semifinals.





Franchise Sports Media - Aces vs Mercury
Photo Credit: Trisha LaCoste – Franchise Sports Media

Weathering the Storm – The Sun got off to a fantastic start, absolutely scorching the nets from downtown. Diana Taurasi and Kia Nurse made a ton of threes to begin the game, and it brought the Mercury to a 30-21 lead after the break. Fortunately, Las Vegas settled down and made some adjustments defensively to creep back in the game during the second quarter — it’s what allowed for them to keep the game within striking distance before pouncing.

Total Team Effort –  Four Aces players topped the 15-point mark on the night. Kelsey Plum, Dearica Hamby, and Liz Cambage came off the bench to produce significantly for Las Vegas.





Turnovers –  Perhaps the most important part of this game for the Aces was the turnover department. Las Vegas did a great job through the first three quarters but got extremely sloppy in the opening minutes of the fourth. Mostly all of their turnovers came from offensive fouls, such as illegal screens and off-ball fouls.



The Aces will host the Mercury for Game 2 of the WNBA Semifinals on Thursday, September 30th. Tune into ESPN2 at 7:00 p.m. to follow the action live, and remember to check back here for the game recap.

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-Cole Huff– Franchise Sports Media

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