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Wilson and McBride Combine to Score 61 Points as Aces Top Visiting Connecticut, 94-90

July 8, 2018 - Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) - Las Vegas Aces News Release

LAS VEGAS - Las Vegas took another step towards securing its first postseason berth in its inaugural season in Sin City, Saturday, as the Aces erased an 11-point, fourth-quarter deficit to upend the Connecticut Sun, 94-90. Rookie MVP candidate A'ja Wilson recorded a 34-point, 14-rebound double-double, while Kayla McBride added 27 points.

KEY RUNS

With the score tied at four early in the first, the Aces went on a 14-4 run to open up a 10-point advantage. A'ja Wilson scored six points during the run, while JiSu Park added four.

The Sun sliced the lead to seven at the end of the first quarter, and used a 7-0 run beginning at the 7:32 mark of the second to take their first lead of the game, 29-28. Jonquel Jones scored five of the seven points during the run.

Connecticut led by tw0, 57-55, with 5:50 to go in the third quarter, and scored 14 of the next 20 points to secure its first double-digit lead of the game, 71-61.

The Aces trailed by 11 at the start of the fourth quarter, and by seven with 4:16 to play, but Las Vegas scored 12 straight to take a lead they would never relinquish. Wilson and McBride each scored five points during the run.

KEY STATS

A'ja Wilson (34) and Kayla McBride (27) combined to score 61 points.

The Sun bench outscored the Aces' bench 44-15.

Las Vegas' starters outscored the Sun starters 79-46.

The Aces went 16 for 19 from the free throw line while Connecticut went 7 for 10.

The Sun made 9 of 29 three-pointers, while Las Vegas went 4 for 13.

Kelsey Plum (10) and Moriah Jefferson (5) combined to hand out 15 assists without a turnover.

GAME NOTES

A'ja Wilson (34 points) reached double figures in scoring for the 20th straight time to start her career. She scored 20 or more points for the 13th time this year, and 30 or more for the second time. Wilson added 14 boards for her eighth double-double of the season.

Kayla McBride (27 points) scored in double figures for the 17th time this season, and the 16th straight.

Kelsey Plum handed out a season-high 10 assists, reaching double figures for the second time in her career.

Connecticut had five players score in double figures led by Morgan Tuck's 20 points off the bench. Tuck also connected on a career-high four three-pointers.

Chiney Ogwumike recorded a 15-point, 11-rebound double-double, which was her fifth double-double of the season.

Las Vegas Postgame Quotes

vs. Connecticut, July 7, 2018

Las Vegas Aces Head Coach Bill Laimbeer

Opening Statement:

It was great to come back and get a win like that. Obviously, our two horses went off again [A'ja Wilson and Kayla McBride]. It's no question where our bread is buttered. However, there were some very fine performances tonight. That was Moriah Jefferson's best game. Our lead guards had 15 assists and no turnovers. I think the player that won the game for us was Ji-Su Park. I thought her defense down the stretch was outstanding. She got big rebounds. While A'ja Wilson gets credit for the big three-point play at the end, she never would have gotten the ball if Park had not attacked the rebound and knocked it loose so that it fell right into Wilson's hands. I thought that was Park's best and most confident game to date. Hopefully, we can get some more production like that from her. I'm also searching for more production from our bench. We have to get a little bit more from them.

On defensive changes in the fourth quarter:

I think that Jefferson gave us so much energy in the fourth quarter. She hounded the ball. Connecticut was in a rhythm during the third quarter. They we making shots, driving and making shots and I think Jefferson disrupted the rhythm out there and it was infectious for our team to pick up our intensity defensively. We also got the big rebounds during the fourth quarter, which also helped.

On the character of the team:

The character of our team is still growing. I'm not quite sure where it's going to end up. I know that McBride is willing herself and this team to be competitive mentally. A'ja is A'ja. She's going to do her thing every game. I like Kelsey Plum's competitiveness also. And you saw what Jefferson could do tonight. Once Jefferson gets fully acclimated, I want to see how that three-guard rotation that played tonight works. I thought that it worked well against this team. It may not work against other teams but for this team it worked for us tonight. We're a work in progress but I think this win today goes a long way to helping us build our character. We were down but

we did not hang our heads. That's the one thing that we did not do. We came out in the fourth quarter with the determination to win the game.

Starting Forward A'Ja Wilson

On the fourth quarter and not getting down mentally:

We really held our composure. We know basketball is a game of runs and we know that Connecticut keeps on going. Like coach says, they're a front-running team. When they get going, we have to just stay within ourselves and keep attacking them in any way. Just control what we can control and I think we did a great job of doing that.

On what changed defensively in the fourth quarter:

I think we just started getting more physical with them especially down in the post. JiSu Park had a phenomenal game. She was everywhere all the time blocking shots and that's what we need. That's what kept us going. We really buckled down locked in and we got the job done.

On the And One late in the fourth quarter:

It was the best feeling and it comes from JiSu Park. If she wouldn't have attacked that rebound and going after it, I probably wouldn't have got the basketball. It was really exciting just finally kind of say we're here, we're in Las Vegas and we're making a statement.

On the crowd after the And One:

That was insane. My ears were ringing. I was wondering if I could make this free throw. McBride was pushing me and everybody was excited. That's what it's all about and we have a great fan-base here. We're slowly starting to get fans out here and really support us to continue to get these wins at home. It's really good for us.

Starting Guard Kayla McBride:

On the resiliency of this team in the fourth quarter:

Once we got down seven, I looked at everybody and said, 'What's everybody afraid of"? We've been playing with this team the whole time and all of a sudden we give up this run and maybe that's what I needed to say at the time to kind of switch it up. I was just really proud of how we fought back. Moriah Jefferson came in and gave us some great minutes and clutch free throws. Kelsey Plum hit a huge shot and it came from all different spots. JiSu Park was amazing with all those rebounds and going up against Chiney Ogwumike down the stretch. It as a team effort and that's how you have to win and that's how you have to play games.

On the crowd after the And One:

It was actually JiSu Park that got the rebound and tipped it up out of Chiney Ogwumike's hands and kind of threw here on the ground and A'ja picked it up for the And One. It was a huge play for us and a huge momentum builder for us putting us up by five. I think that really set the tone for the game with about 1:20 left. JiSu was battling in there. Connecticut is one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the league so for her to get in there, even with her not playing that much in the first half, but for her to come out and bring that mental toughness in the second half was really great for us.

On closing out games in the final two minutes:

I think it's just something we had to learn. I think against Los Angeles or especially like a Connecticut team who's really well coached, you had to be able to stay together because they're going to make runs like they did in the fourth quarter. To be able to respond to a team like that and like we have been, I think it's been really great for us. We're building confidence day by day and we're just trying to carry the momentum. We're trying to get to the playoffs, that's our goal and we have to win games especially at home.

Connecticut Postgame Quotes

At Las Vegas, July 7, 2018

Connecticut Sun Head Coach Curt Miller

On the loss:

I thought it was a great game. Give them all sorts of credit, scoring 29 points in the fourth quarter and showing that energy and toughness. They were relentless. They ran it at us and hurt us in transition and on the boards. There were hustle plays that they made during the fourth quarter and I thought we lost our legs. That's our fourth game in seven days on this four-game west coast road trip with two starters out. It was tough for us but that's one where we wished we could have gotten to the finish line. That one hurts and stings because we thought we could get to the finish line on this one.

On running out of gas in the fourth quarter:

I thought we lost our legs in the middle of the fourth quarter. We took open shots in the fourth quarter when we had them but we didn't always make those shots. We couldn't answer their runs in the fourth quarter. A little bit of it was us losing our legs and a little bit of it was a credit to them. We had trouble finding baskets when we needed them. We didn't get anything easy in that fourth quarter. We couldn't turn them over, we couldn't get out in transition and everything was a grind for us in the fourth quarter.

On A'ja Wilson's performance:

The way we shut her down and turned her over in the first meeting was by having her in street clothes. Our best post defender, best athlete and the person I think will consistently in this league give her all sorts of trouble was not playing tonight. Wilson did a good job of attacking some of our other post player assignments but she's a load and hard to contain.

On strong bench-scoring:

Our bench was good again. We're a deep team. Our bench unit sometimes executes better than the starting unit. They do the little things. Sometimes they're better screeners or spacers and they really know how to share and play with each other. It's a boost for us and they were again tonight so I was proud of them. In fact, a bench player had the game-winning look. Morgan Tuck had that game-winning look to take the lead but after a great night tonight she missed the shot.

Starting Forward Chiney Ogwumike

On fifth double-double tonight of the season

I felt good. I think we were tired, it's four games in seven days, so it wasn't easy, but we have to learn to push through better. It was a fun game, but we really wanted this win.

On losing 11-point lead in the 4th quarter

I think they just had another gear, they went into turbo mode and I don't know what their schedule has been, I know they've been at home quite a bit and we've been on the road for a bit and the road wears on you, but at the same time we just have to learn in these situations you have to push through

On approach to guarding A'ja tonight

Nothing different. I think more so it was on us, defensively it was on us to stop her. She was aggressive defensively and offensively she felt comfortable. It's never about what they're doing, it's how we play, we were competitive so if someone has 50 points and we're still winning, then that's good for us. I salute her as a rookie she's playing well, but for us we just have to learn how to bounce back.

Connecticut Forward Morgan Tuck

On the game overall

It's a tough loss, I definitely think we had our chances and in that fourth quarter we struggled to get stops, but it was just one of those games where we couldn't close.

On scoring 20 points tonight off the bench

The three was working for me, I mean I missed some easy shots in the first half but in the second half my teammates just saw me when I was open, and I was just able to knock them down.

On game plan

We knew it was going to be totally different, they didn't have a few of their main players back in that first game. The game plan was to just try to contain A'ja and Kayla. They went off and had great games, but they score most of their points every game, so we knew we were going to have to battle with them a bit and to just be aggressive. You know it's our fourth game in seven days and we just have to push through when we get tired

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