The Aces Picked Up An Emphatic Win Over The Liberty In Game 2 Of The WNBA Finals

The Las Vegas Aces are one win away from going back-to-back as champions. The Aces played host to the New York Liberty at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas on Wednesday night in the WNBA Finals, and rode emphatic performances in the first and third quarters to a 104-76 win that gave them a 2-0 lead in the series.

Basketball games are supposed to be won over the course of 40 minutes, but the Aces decided to do everything they could to win Game 2 in the first quarter. Las Vegas put forth one of the greatest quarters of offensive basketball we’ve ever seen, as the team raced out to a 19-2 lead, led by as many as 21 points, and scored a WNBA Finals-record 38 points in the game’s first frame.

Every member of the team’s starting five scored at least five points in the first, with A’ja Wilson’s 12 points leading the way. As a team, Las Vegas shot 14-for-20 and 6-for-10 from three, and all the while, New York’s offense was stuck in the mud — the Liberty shot 6-for-20 from the field and found themselves down, 38-19, after one.

Thanks to a pair of big runs — a 7-0 run early in the second and a 12-0 run towards the end — New York was able to get back into the game. It also helped that Jonquel Jones played like a superstar in the second. After scoring three points in the first quarter, Jones went into the locker room with 19 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks.

Her size and physicality were a major issue for Las Vegas, and as a result, the Liberty spent the second quarter chipping away at a lead that extended to as many as 22 points. By the time the horn sounded for the half, the Aces’ once indomitable margin was down to 52-44.

And then, the third quarter started, and the Aces followed the script that they laid out in the first. After racing out to a 17-3 lead in the period and extending the gap between the two teams, Las Vegas was able to keep New York at arm’s length. Chelsea Gray’s influence, in particular, was felt throughout the quarter, as she was in complete and total control of things.

That dominance beget a fourth quarter that was more of a formality than anything. While both teams ran their starters for the first few minutes, eventually, Sandy Brondello and Becky Hammon opted to empty their benches and see out the inevitable Aces win. Three players on Las Vegas eclipsed the 20-point plateau: Wilson (26 points, 15 rebounds, three assists, one steal, one block), Jackie Young (24 points, eight rebounds, four assists), and Kelsey Plum (23 points, eight assists, three steals). That trio was buoyed by Gray, who had a 14-point, 11-assist, 6-rebound evening. The team’s ball movement was picture-perfect, as evidenced by the team’s 31 assists on 37 made baskets.

As for the Liberty, it was largely an evening to forget. While Jones had 22 points, 10 rebounds, and four blocks, the rest of the team struggled mightily to get going. Breanna Stewart had 14, Betnijah Laney had 12, and Sabrina Ionescu had 10, with that trio combining to shoot 12-for-42 (28.5 percent) from the field.

Now, the series will head to the east coast for at least one more matchup between the two best teams in the league. Game 3 will take place on Sunday afternoon at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and is scheduled to tip off at 3 p.m. EST on ABC.