The defending Champion Las Vegas Aces ( 20-2, 9-2 away) beat the Seattle Storm ( 4-17, 2-10 home) for the sixth consecutive time Thursday night at Climate Pledge Arena. The sixth straight win by the Aces over the Storm dates back to the 2022 Playoff. This season the Aces have won all three games between the two teams.
Despite the third consecutive loss to the Aces Storm head coach Noelle Quinn found some positives in the game.
“We still have a way to go, after a time out I look up see Vegas has the ball again, in a crucial possession,” Quinn said after the game. “ How are we executing in crucial moments is key, we have to go over it and have them understand that no matter what we have done in the first , second quarter in these moments our next level is to continue to listen and get over this hump of turnovers and lack of defensive execution , We still have a way to go but I am proud of our execution tonight. Holding Vegas to 79 points is a good effort. “
In the two previous games, the Storm lost to the Aces 106- 64 to start the season and 96-63 loss on June 15th In a season that will be evaluated on improvement and wins the Storm have improved on the defensive end. The emergence of Dulcy Fankam Mendjiadeu as a bonafide post player is one big reason for the Storm’s defensive improvement. The 6-3 Cameroonian-born player rookie started her third consecutive game. Her physicality around the rim takes the pressure off the Storm’s best defender Ezi Magbegor In her two previous starts Fankam Mendjiadeu recorded back-to-back doubles becoming just the third Storm rookie to do so. Although she had zero points and just three rebounds against the Aces Fankam Mendjiadeu was a disruptor inside the paint.
WILLIAMS GETS A START
Another reason for the Storm’s improved effort against the Aces was the insertion of Gabby Williams into the starting lineup. Williams started her first game after resigning with the team on July 3rd. Williams saw action in two previous games before All- Star Game at Washington ( 7/11) and Atlanta ( 7/12).
“Her defensive effort , she gives us another initiator on the floor, her and with her athleticism she is able to guard multiple players on the court, Quinn said after the game. “ She gives us another elite athlete on the floor, she plays hard, comfort for me she knows our system what we want, her energy level is high “.
What the Storm lacked against the Aces was the ability to finish the game. Head coach Noelle Quinn has preached effort, hustle, overcoming mistakes, and execution. Against the Aces the Storm hustled, and gave optimum effort but lacked execution. The Aces went into the halftime break with a 39-28 advantage.
A lack of execution on the offense by the Storm allowed the Aces to reel off a 21-6 offensive outburst through the first seven minutes of the third quarter and increase the lead to 14 points at 60-36. As they have done all season when faced with adversity the Storm came to life with hustle, and effective rebounding which ignited their transition offense. With the transition game in full motion, the Storm went on a 9-0 run scoring the last five points of the third and first nine of the fourth quarter which cut the deficit to just five points at 62-55 with 6:34 left in the game.
After a time-out to recalibrate the Aces scored the next five points to increase the lead back up to 12 points at 67-55 with 5:26 to go in the game. A driving layup by Magbegor cut the deficit to ten but a lack of execution, bad decision-making, and poor rebounding doomed the Storm as the Aces held on for the 79-63 win.
|TEAM||1||2||3||4||FINAL||HIGH PTS||HIGH REB||HIGH AST|
|LAS VEGAS||19||20||23||17||79||A. Wilson, 23||A. Wilson, 15||C. Gray, 8|
|SEATTLE||15||13||18||17||63||E. Magbegor, J. Loyd, 12||E. Magbegor, 7||J. Loyd, 6|
KEY STATS OF THE GAME
- Seattle held Las Vegas to 79 points—its third lowest score of the season. The other two were 78 at Dallas (7/7) and 77 at Connecticut (6/8) in their only two losses of the season.
- The Storm bench outscored the Aces’ reserves 27-8, with Jordan Horston leading the charge with 11 points, followed by Sami Whitcomb and Mercedes Russell with eight points apiece.
- Jewell Loyd scored 12 points, marking her 19th consecutive game with 10+ points, tied for second most in the WNBA. She also tied a season-high with six assists, and contributed six rebounds and one steal.
- Ezi Magbegor tallied 12 points, seven rebounds, three blocks and two steals. Her threeblocked shots were the most by a single player against the Aces this year and the eighth time she has blocked 3+ shots in a game.
- Horston’s contribution from the bench included five rebounds, two assists and two steals.
- Gabby Williams scored her first points back at Climate Pledge Arena with a driving layup at the 4:07 mark in the first quarter to give the Storm an 11-9 edge. Williams, who made her first start of the season, finished with four points and added five rebounds, four assists and one steal.
- Three Aces players finished with 20+ points: A’ja Wilson (23), Jackie Young (22) and Kelsey Plum (20). Wilson added another 15 rebounds, logging her 14th double-double of the season.
- With her second block of the game at the 4:57 mark in the second quarter, Ezi Magbegor blocked her 141st shot, moving her ahead of Natasha Howard (140) for No. 4 in Storm history.
- Loyd’s six rebounds gave her 932 for her career, moving past Alysha Clark into sixth on Seattle’s all-time list.
The Storm hosts the Chicago Sky Saturday, July 22, at Climate Pledge Arena, with tip-off slated for 6 p.m. PT. The game will be broadcast locally on FOX13+ and nationally on NBATV, and also streamed on Amazon Prime Video (Washington).
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