Wilson helps Aces even WNBA playoff series with Storm

A’ja Wilson had 33 points and 12 rebounds to help the Aces beat the Storm 78-73 in Game 2 of Wednesday night’s semifinals and even in the WNBA playoff series.

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A’ja Wilson didn’t like the feeling after a semifinal loss in Game 1 of the WNBA playoffs, scoring just eight points.

She responded with a career playoff-high 33 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to help the Las Vegas Aces beat the Seattle Storm 78-73 in Wednesday night’s Game 2 and even the series.

“When I saw the game come to an end, I was like, ‘Well, we’re not going to let that happen again,’ I’ve learned my lesson,” Wilson said. “So I don’t necessarily know if it’s possessed, but I was really locked in for my team. I had to be the anchor I was before and be consistent about what got us here.”

Chelsea Gray finished the tournament with 19 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for the aces while Kelsey Plum added 18 points.

Game 3 is in Seattle on Sunday.

“At the end of the day we knew what we had to do. We had to take care of home,” Wilson said. “We should have lost in Game 1 by a bigger margin. We went back to the film room and went to the lab.”

Seattle fought back behind Breanna Stewart, who led the storm with 32 points and seven rebounds. The Storm got on track within 75-73 of Sue Bird’s runner, who she hit by 19.9 seconds.

Wilson hit two free throws 2 seconds later and Seattle stopped threatening after that.

“I was just locked in. Had to be locked up for my team,” Wilson said. “Can’t be the way I was before.”

Wilson took over in the second half of Game 2. With the tie in the third quarter, she scored 13 points during that period to help the Aces take a 60-52 lead.

“I can’t even remember the third quarter because I was just so tied up because that’s what I need to be for my team,” Wilson said.

Though the Storm were a perfect 11-11 from the free throw line, coach Noelle Quinn expressed disappointment that her players weren’t getting as many calls as the Aces, who hit 18 of 23 free throw attempts.

“I thought our posts did an excellent job of coming in color,” she said. “I thought they did everything right except get to the free throw line and get the calls.”

The Aces came out of the chute a completely different team from the one that looked stagnant in the first quarter of Game 1 and took a 14-11 lead down the middle. But after making 7 of 13 to start the game, the Aces missed their last five shots in the quarter. However, The Storm capitalized on a 10-0 run to end the period and went into the second with a 23-16 lead.

The second quarter quickly became a battle of MVP candidates as Stewart scored Seattle’s first six points of the second quarter while Wilson scored eight of Las Vegas’ first 13. The Aces used an 11-2 run to level the game at 31. The teams went into halftime with 36 points.

“We had many, many opportunities to get the game back on our side and pick it up,” Stewart said. “We knew they would come out with guns blazing. They had to, they don’t want to go down 2-0. But we will continue to learn from this game. We go home looking forward to playing in front of our fans again.”

TIP ONE

The Aces missed five free throws and marked only the second time in nine games they missed three or more from the free throw line. … Wilson’s tally was the first time it had hit the 30-point plateau since June 11 in Los Angeles. … After averaging 14 points against Washington in the opening round, Sue Bird is averaging just 4.0 points per game against the Aces. Bird is also averaging 9.0 assists per game in the series and 7.5 for the playoffs. … Seattle had won the last 13 playoff games Stewart played in before Wednesday night’s loss.

AWARDS NIGHT

WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert was on hand for the game and presented three trophies prior to the opening pick. Aces coach Becky Hammon was honored as Coach of the Year, Wilson was named Defensive Player of the Year and Jackie Young received her Best Improved Player trophy.

https://www.king5.com/article/sports/wnba/storm/wilson-helps-aces-even-wnba-playoff-series-with-storm/281-69d3f9dd-a8ee-4d1b-8720-59096c8fa69e Wilson helps Aces even WNBA playoff series with Storm

Emma Bowman

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