Video Credit: WNBA

FSM Essential Recap: Aces vs. Mercury – Game 1

Franchise Sports Media

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



The Las Vegas Aces opened their 2022 WNBA season with a 106-98 win over the Phoenix Mercury. 


Aces vs. Mercury
Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

When Becky Hammon spoke in January during her introductory press conference as the new Las Vegas Aces head coach, she made one thing very clear. She wanted to play a more modern brand of basketball than what Aces had played in previous years. She wanted to play a brand that included more 3-pointers, better floor spacing, and tempo pushing. As a result, the Aces scored 106 points in Friday night’s season-opening victory, the most in any head coach’s WNBA debut. One would imagine that Hammon’s vision in January probably looked relatively similar to the one in the 2022 opener.

From the jump, things were recognizably different. Most notably was eliminating the twin tower starting unit — no more A’ja Wilson pairings with other centers such as Liz Cambage, Kiah Stokes, JiSu Park, or Carolyn Swords. That long chapter appears to have finally ended. The new chapter began with Wilson as the starting center, opening the game alongside Dearica Hamby as the two frontcourt members. The frontcourt was vital in getting Vegas off to a strong start on both ends and out to an early 20-7 lead.

These girls came out really locked and loaded and ready to play,” Hammon said following the Aces’ 106-88 win. “I liked us defensively, especially that first and second quarter…We played well, and I know we can still play better.”

The first and second quarters were Aces basketball at its finest. They held Phoenix to just 32 first-half points while chipping in 54 of their own. The Mercury, behind 13 third-quarter points from Skylar Diggins-Smith, eventually got going on offense but were still outscored 32-31 in the frame by a dominant Las Vegas offense.

So, playing better is a realistic expectation moving forward, being that the win at Phoenix was just Game 1 of a 36-game regular season. But that expectation is hardly a dig at the Aces’ players and their performance on Friday night. Vegas recorded 27 assists on its 39 made baskets, which came by 28 2-pointers and 11 threes (and 17 free throws). And the Aces’ shooting splits were beautiful, going 58.2 percent from the field, 52.4 from deep, and 94.4 at the line.


Much of that success on offense can be credited to the new offensive schemes that Hammon has implemented.


Aces vs. Mercury
Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

Since the first day Becky has been here, her emphasis has been pace and space. I think this open floor creates a lot more opportunities in transition,” said Hamby when asked about her fit in the new offensive scheme. “It felt natural for me; this is my game… We’ve always been good, but personally, for me, I think I’m a little bit more impactful when I can play like this.”

Playing “like this” (fast-paced) was indeed very good for Hamby, who led the Aces in scoring with 24 points in the win. She was one of five starters to score in double digits and one of three to reach at least 20 points. The well-balanced attack left Hammon happy but not satisfied, giving the team a “B” grade for their performance.

We gotta keep moving the ball,” said Hammon. “I thought we played in a crowd occasionally,  got in too deep a little bit, and it caused some turnovers. We had 16, and they got 25 points off it, so I know that’s one area for sure that I know we can clean up.”

The Aces will have a day to clean things up before hosting the Seattle Storm on Sunday night in Las Vegas for their home opener.


You can catch the Aces in action on Sunday, May 8th, when they host Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart, and the Seattle Storm. Follow the game live at 7 p.m. PST on ESPN2, and check back with us for a game recap.

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-Cole Huff– Franchise Sports Media

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