The Aces Beat The Storm In OT After A Ridiculous Final Minute Of Regulation

After two thrilling games in Las Vegas that saw the series knotted up at 1-1, the Aces and Storm faced off in Seattle on Sunday afternoon for an all-important Game 3 that would push one team a game shy of the WNBA Finals.

Early on, it was the Aces that came out swinging, as A’ja Wilson picked up where she left off in Game 2, scoring 20 first half points to lead Las Vegas to what was at one point a 15-point advantage.

Along with Wilson’s hot start, Chelsea Gray likewise went to work early, as she got hot with 13 first half points as it was all Aces in the early going.

For the Storm, they had to find someone else to carry the early offense as Breanna Stewart, who dominated the first two games, scuffled early going just 1-of-7 from the field in the opening two quarters. Tina Charles stepped up to fill the void with 13 first half points and after a late run, Seattle found itself within eight at the half.

In the third quarter, the Storm would come out with renewed energy, turning defense into offense and taking their first lead of the game midway through the quarter.

The Aces would respond and fight their way back into the lead, taking a four-point edge thanks to a three just before the shot clock buzzer from Jackie Young in the final 30 seconds.

The fourth quarter continued to be a heavyweight battle, with Wilson getting back into the flow for the Aces while Stephanie Talbot came off the bench for Seattle to knock down three 3-pointers and scored 12 points, and Sue Bird got in the flow as well as the Storm took a brief three-point lead.

Riquna Williams tied things up at 81-81 with a three of her own, and from there the stars took back over. A Breanna Stewart bucket was answered by A’ja Wilson that was answered by Breanna Stewart that was answered by Chelsea Gray that was answered, again, by Breanna Stewart.

That run was finally broken by a missed corner three from Kelsey Plum, and Seattle had the ball, leading 87-85, with under 30 seconds to play. The Aces were able to force a tough miss from Stewart, but couldn’t pull in the rebound as Kiah Stokes and Ezi Magbegor fought over it, with the ball going off Stokes last, giving Seattle the ball back with 12.5 seconds left, meaning the Aces would have to foul.

The Storm got the ball into Jewell Loyd, who knocked down both to get her 14th and 15th points of the night to push Seattle ahead by four with 11.3 seconds to go. Vegas would draw up a gorgeous play to free Williams for her fourth three-pointer of the night off the bench, cutting the lead to 89-88 with 8.9 seconds to play.

Tina Charles would get the inbounds pass for Seattle and was fouled with 7.2 seconds and missed both, giving the Aces a chance to draw up a game-winner from anywhere on the court with 6.9 seconds to go. Naturally, the Aces went to their star and cleared it out, letting Wilson go 1-on-1 from the middle of the floor and she got to the bucket with a gorgeous step-through for the go-ahead score.

On the other end, it was a blown coverage from the Aces that left Sue Bird alone in the near corner for the go-ahead three with 1.8 seconds to play.

However, not to be outdone, the Aces dialed up their own great ATO, with Jackie Young catching the ball in the paint and finishing a layup over Magbegor who, for some reason, pulled her hands down rather than contesting the game-tying shot at the buzzer.

LeBron James summed up everyone’s thoughts on Becky Hammon’s whiteboard work late in the game, as the Aces got a good look on every single opportunity.

Stewart opened the OT period with a tough bucket over Wilson to give Seattle the initial advantage, but wasn’t able to convert the and-1 opportunity.

Kelsey Plum would get an and-1 chance of her own a minute later and did convert, giving Vegas a one-point edge, which they pushed to three after Wilson got a putback bucket. Stewart would again get an and-1 finish and again missed the free throw that would’ve tied the game. From there, things fell apart for the Storm. Another Plum layup, a Gray three, a Storm turnover, and a Gray layup in succession pushed Vegas to an 8-point lead that proved to be too much.

Gray would bury another three with just over a minute to go that pushed the Aces lead to nine, with Kiah Stokes hitting a corner three to serve as the final dagger, as the Aces went on to win 110-98 in an absolutely unbelievable game.

Wilson finished with 34 points, one-upping her Game 2 performance, to go along with 11 boards and three steals. Gray added 29, a playoff career-high for her, and 12 assists, while Plum chipped in 16 points and Williams had 14 off the bench to provide some much-needed shooting. For the Storm, they seemed dashed by how regulation ended and just couldn’t execute well enough in overtime. Despite the slow start, Stewart finished with 20 points, 15 rebounds, and six assists, while Bird and Loyd each had 17 points and Charles finished with 16 points (just three in the second half and OT).

It was one of the best games you’ll ever see, with a final score not indicative of how competitive and stressful it was. The Aces now move one game away from the WNBA Finals, while the Storm will need to protect home court on Tuesday night to force a winner-take-all Game 5 back in Las Vegas.