Aces Punch Ticket to Postseason with 100-85 Road Win over Chicago
CHICAGO, IL - The Las Vegas Aces (18-9) are playoff bound following the team's Sunday evening, 100-85, road win over the Chicago Sky (15-11). It is the first time the franchise has made the postseason since 2014 when they were the San Antonio Stars.
Neither team led by more than five points until Las Vegas broke a 38-38 tie by scoring seven straight late in the second quarter.
It was still just a six-point Aces lead, 83-77, with 5:32 to go in the game, but Las Vegas scored the next eight points to go up by 14, 91-77, effectively ending the game.
The Aces made 50.0 percent of their shots from the field (35 for 70), while the Sky made 34.2 percent of theirs (26 for 76)
The Sky went 9 for 32 from three-point range, while the Aces went 4 for 12.
Chicago center Stefanie Dolson picked up two fouls in the first 2:11 of the game, and finished with five in 10:37.
Las Vegas committed 13 turnovers which Chicago turned into 17 points. The Sky were credited with 7 miscues, which the Aces flipped into 4 points.
The Aces outscored the Sky 50 to 26 in the paint.
A'ja Wilson played for the first time since July 19 when she injured her left ankle in the third quarter of a 69-66 loss at Seattle. She checked in with 6:07 to go in the first quarter, replacing Dearica Hamby. She scored nine straight points for the Aces in the first quarter, and finished the half with 17.
Wilson scored in double figures for the 16th time this season, and 20 or more points for the fifth time (25 points).
Liz Cambage scored in double figures for the 23rd time this season, and 20 or more points for the fifth time (23 points). She added 10 rebounds for her 10th double-double of the year.
This is the first time that Cambage and Wilson have each scored 20 or more points in a game as teammates.
Kayla McBride scored in double figures for the 22nd time this year (10 points).
The Aces held Chicago to 34.2 percent shooting for the game. In the first two meetings between the clubs this season, Chicago made 44.3 and 42.9 percent of their shots.
Las Vegas has scored 100 or more points three times this season.
Diamond DeShields' 28 points and five 3-pointers made each match career highs
The Aces return home Tuesday to host the Phoenix Mercury in the team's penultimate regular season home game. Tip is slated for 7 pm PT.
POSTGAME VIDEO INTERVIEWS
Bill Laimbeer - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51LPiqielNE
A'ja Wilson - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Z8uk5MxgSA&t's
Liz Cambage - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xAO9DQxlAPI&t=35s
ACES HEAD COACH BILL LAIMBEER
On closing out the season and looking toward the playoffs:
"The next game is in two days from now so we now know we're going to be in the playoffs but now it's about seeding and about winning basketball games. We've got a very important game coming up against Phoenix at home so we're focused on the next game."
On A'ja Wilson's return from injury:
"I thought she came with the right energy, she came with something to prove to herself and everybody else that ok she's been out for a long time but she's ready to go again. I thought she played a whale of a game and if we have her and Liz clicking like that and we get everybody else to tighten it up a little bit more we're gonna be ok."
On closing out the Sky in the fourth:
"I thought we did a nice job on Quigley and stopped the three balls and the rebounding was a big key to the win. We controlled the glass for the most part and outrebounded them and outshot them."
On the Aces shooting 50 percent from the field:
"Well we haven't shot 50% in a while, we did because A'ja and Liz dominated the inside and shot a high percentage. We still could make better shots from the perimeter but our strength is inside."
ACES CENTER LIZ CAMBAGE
On getting A'ja Wilson back from injury:
"It was great, it was the best birthday present for me today was getting A'ja back on the court and you know it looked like she took no time off and wasn't out with any injury at all. She came back very strong, I thought she was the [most valuable player] of the game and really gave us an edge."
On shooting 50 percent from the field as a team:
"I'm not really sure, we were screening really well for each other getting each other more open and getting better looks. We also moved the ball really well and made that extra pass so that's what we did."
On her chemistry with A'ja Wilson:
"That's just something that's been happening the whole season between me and A'ja [Wilson] that four or five is a relationship and we see each other better than the guards because we have that height advantage to pass it in or around players. It's lob city with me and A'ja, I could do that all day."
ACES FORWARD A'JA WILSON
On clinching a playoff berth:
"We're taking it in. This is definitely something special for us and our franchise, and we're happy to be in this situation, but we know there's a lot of games left to be played and we can't let up. Yes, this is something we should celebrate, but we've got a game on Tuesday, so we're staying focused."
On a strong return from injury:
"I've gotta thank my teammates. They kept getting me into situations to score the basketball, and I trust them that they're gonna set me up. Really that's the only thing I just wanted to go out and try to be the best teammate I can especially off of injury. I know it's kind of different to come in off the bench and recreate the chemistry with the team after missing time, but I just wanted to fit in and get things going for myself as well as my teammates.
On creating separation from the Sky in the third and fourth quarters:
"We just focused on us, we didn't really get into things going on around us, so we just buckled down on who we were and making sure that we executed and got good shots to close this one out."
SKY GENERAL MANAGER AND HEAD COACH JAMES WADE
On Liz Cambage's trash talking and the officiating Sunday night:
"[Liz Cambage] was protected by the refs. [The trash talking is] uncalled for. She's such a great lady. She doesn't have to do that. She's one of the most dominant players in the league. The game didn't have to go the way it went. That was one of the most ridiculous games I have ever seen in my life and that I've ever been a part of, and it's not called for. We sent in three plays from the last game [against the Aces], and it wasn't addressed, so she was able to do anything she wanted, and I was tired of it. They sent them to the free-throw line for everything. That was absolutely atrocious. And then at the end of the game, I'm smart enough to know that they were trying to call it to even up the calls. That was uncalled for. They were able to travel, do eve-rything, and we're going to send them into the league again. This is just what it is, and we have to deal with adversity. The only thing that I don't like is that [the Sky players] get up every morn-ing and go to work, and all they want to do is be treated fairly, just like everybody else. They go overseas and they come back and play here and they want to be in the league, and they play hard and sacrifice to be in the league. The only thing we want is just to play a fair 40 minutes, and that was just horrible to look at."
On the Aces' performance Sunday:
"I'm not trying to take this game away from Las Vegas. They beat us. It's just that simple. What-ever conditions there were, they beat us. That's a good team. That's a championship team. It's been said since the beginning of the season. They're a championship team. They're the best team in the world, and we deal with it."
On the adjustment with Stefanie Dolson in early foul trouble:
"That's one of the main reasons we bring Cheyenne [Parker] off the bench. She's a comfort for us. I think she's a starter, but she's coming off the bench for us. So, when Stefanie [Dolson] goes out, we have enough of a rotation. But what it causes is sometimes it's going to cause Stefanie to play a little tentative when Cheyenne has to come out, and play a little hesitant. Because she is doing what she is supposed to do, but they are penalizing her for it. So there's not much that you can do. We didn't get a lot out of her when she's really important to what we do. She played 10 minutes and was 0-for-3 and had zero rebounds, but she wasn't allowed to get into a groove and actually play to her [standard] because the whistles didn't go her way."
SKY GUARD DIAMOND DESHIELDS
On sustaining her level of play and avoiding a sophomore slump this season:
"That's just me being who I am. Any type of slump that you go through is a part of basketball. Whether it continues or not is just not being mentally tough enough to take yourself out of it. The way you play fluctuates. That's called playing in sports. You'll drop, you'll be high, you just got to have the mental fortitude to get over it and push through. I've got amazing teammates and I wouldn't trade them. They believe in me so much. I think that's a huge reason why I can play the way I do."
On staying aggressive offensively when the officiating isn't going her team's way:
"That's just me doing my job. My teammates trusted me with the ball in my hands in the third quarter. I'm supposed to score, so trust in myself and trust in the work I've put in and be grateful toward my teammates to be able to receive the opportunity to showcase that, so just trying to make something happen."
On whether imbalanced officiating affects her mentally:
"No, it's part of the game. It can be frustrating, especially when it seems like it's lopsided. We've all been in games where they miss calls. Officials aren't perfect people, so like [James Wade] said, you gotta deal with it."
SKY FORWARD CHEYENNE PARKER
On Liz Cambage being the beneficiary of foul calls Sunday night:
"I agree with [James Wade]. The calls were obvious, just like the last time we were in Vegas. [Liz Cambage] gets a lot of calls, and it takes the fun out of the game. You try to play hard and do what you gotta do, and it just takes the fun out of it."
On the difficulties of battling Wilson and Cambage:
"Because we are short-staffed in the big girl position, it was exhausting. But like coach said, we faced some adversity and that was something to embrace on our part. But like he said, we lost this game by not pressuring early and making them uncomfortable."
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