Las Vegas Aces are WNBA’s First Repeat Champs in 21 Years
Posted on: October 18, 2023, 11:20h.
Last updated on: October 19, 2023, 11:41h.
The top-seeded Las Vegas Aces won their second consecutive WNBA championship Wednesday. They rallied to edge out the No. 2 New York Liberty, 70-69, in Game 4 of the WNBA Finals at New York’s Barclay’s Center. Taking the series 3-1, the Aces became the first WNBA team to repeat as champions since the Los Angeles Sparks in 2002.
The victory was even more impressive considering the Aces were down star guard Chelsea Gray and center Kiah Stokes, who combined to average 17.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 7.9 assists for the Aces this season. Both suffered foot injuries in Game 3.
Led by 2023 MVP forward Breanna Stewart and guard Sabrina Ionescu, the New York team enjoyed a 39-30 lead at halftime. But Las Vegas roared back, with forward A’ja Wilson scoring a game-high 24 points and 16 rebounds, and guard Jackie Young adding 16 points and seven assists.
With 8.8 seconds left in the fourth and trailing by only a point, Liberty guard Courtney Vandersloot had a shot to send the series back to Las Vegas and a decisive Game 5. But she air-balled her jumper, sending jubilant Aces players rushing to celebrate their historic victory at midcourt.
“I can’t express how proud I am of my teammates,” Wilson, who was named the WNBA Finals MVP, told ESPN. “They picked me up when I was down. We cried together, we prayed together, and now we are popping champagne together!”
Aces head coach Becky Hammon said she was confident in her team because she “knew who she had in the locker room.”
There’s not a person out here I don’t believe in,” she said. “I know what they are made of and at the end of the day I told them, ‘Win or lose, I am rolling with them.’ I am rolling with them all day.”
The only problem facing the Aces now is a good problem to have — where to have their second straight victory parade. The Las Vegas Strip is currently in the painful process of becoming a racetrack for the inaugural Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix in less than a month’s time.
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