Las Vegas Aces vs Phoenix Mercury: Game Recap

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Las vegas aces vs phoenix mercury
Photo Credit: AZCentral.com

 

Aces clinch 4th Seed in Playoffs

The Las Vegas Aces competed in their final regular-season game against the Phoenix Mercury on September 8th at the Talking Stick Resort Arena. Every possession mattered this game as both teams prepare to land their spot in the bracket for the WNBA Playoffs.

The Aces defeat The Phoenix Mercury 98-89.

Las Vegas started the game with their backs against the wall and a chip on their shoulder. They’d lost the last 5 games on their end-of-the-season road trip, most recently the loss on Thursday night against the Atlanta Dream. The Aces knew they would have to double down and avenge themselves in Phoenix. They prevailed, but the competition wasn’t a joy ride.

The teams met last on August 20th; that game resulted in overtime and an Aces victory, 84-79.

Although Phoenix veteran, Diana Taurasi, has been injured for two games with hamstring injuries, the Mercury was favored +3 to win the contest. The Aces are 7-9 on the road. Right out of the gate, big contenders, Brittney Griner, DeWanna Bonner, and Leilani Mitchell showed the aces the 3-ring offense. Griner led early in the first quarter with 12 points. Aja Wilson got started early with 8 pts in the first. Coach Lambieer does a great job of managing the defense and rotating the bigs on and off the court. The score was tied at the end of the 1st period, with 1 second left on the clock. Center Griner took the lead to 27-25, hitting the buzzer.

At the half, the score read 52-48.

Analytically, the third quarter is the Achilles heel for the Mercury. However, Phoenix won the quarter, outscoring The Aces by three points. The left-handed bandit, Kelsey Plum, checked in and took charge of the Las Vegas offense, putting 10 points on the board. Wilson was absent most of the 3rd due to foul trouble. Briann January gave The Aces the blues from the perimeter, scoring 2 out of the 4 threes made by Phoenix. January was 5-8 in the field, shooting at 62% percent.

Despite the number of turnovers produced by The Aces, The Mercury refused to capitalize, only making 5 points off 2nd chance possessions with the Aces achieving 16.

The rivalry between Liz Campage and Brittney Griner was intriguing to watch. These big centers elevated each other’s games. Campage works well inside the paint and around the perimeter. Griner and Campage traded baskets back and forth all night. Both made it their mission to score on the other. Campage made 5-6 shots in the 3rd over Griner. As soon as Griner put that right arm up, she’d lose her balance. Campage countered, angelically moving to the basket. Early in the third period, Griner had to sit out with a knee injury but would return at the top of the fourth. As Griner checked in, she told the referee, “Gotta play right?”, and played through the pain.

The fourth quarter got physical with back to back offensive fouls on both sides of the court. Bonner gave the Aces the blues as she made shots from all around the perimeter. With three minutes left in the final period, Bonner made both free throws and advanced the Mercury’s lead to 88-87. Griner followed with a free throw after extending the lead. Wilson put up a field goal to knot the score. Macbride checked back in and made her first 3-pointer of the game with two minutes left. The Aces scored five straight unanswered points.

Leading scorers for the Mercury are DeWanna Bonner and Briann January, both with 14 points. Brittney Griner made shots from everywhere on the court, scoring almost every other possession and ended the night with 24 points. Veteran Camille Little is leaving a legacy on the court with her final game at home. Little is the last active player in the WNBA to be drafted in the class of 2007. Phoenix has a history of setting records. They drafted Gaurd Edna Campbell at 30 years old in 1999. Active player guard, Yvonne Turner, signed with The Mercury in 2017 at 29 years old as the second oldest player to sign in history.

Las Vegas has some leading shot callers. Liz Campage who had a stellar game coming off an injury, ending the game with 20 points. Right behind her, is former MVP Aja Wilson with 21 points. Wilson should never be left open! The field is her friend. She knows how to dribble out of situations and get around her opponent and underneath the basket with regularity. Derica Hamby was also everywhere on the court making assists to her team and scoring baskets where they counted. Hamby ended the game with 12 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists.

The final regular-season game for the Vegas squad is in the books. The lady Aces have clinched the 4th seed with a bye and are now able to sit tight for the playoffs.

Phoenix will face Chicago for the elimination game on 9/11.

Franchise Sports will have you covered for The Las Vegas Aces throughout the WNBA playoffs.

For Franchise Sports Media, I am Aniea Collins.

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