Scoring Success: A’ja Wilson Leads Las Vegas Aces to Back-to-Back WNBA Championships
A’ja Wilson was determined. With no room for excuses, the Las Vegas Aces used adversity as motivation to achieve their goal.
Thanks to a dominant third quarter, the Las Vegas Aces emerged victorious with a 70-69 win over the New York Liberty in Game 4 of the WNBA Finals at Barclays Center in New York. This historic win makes the Aces the first team to achieve back-to-back championships since the Los Angeles Sparks in 2001-02. The Aces have the potential to become the league’s next dynasty, following in the footsteps of the Houston Comets and Sparks.
Leading the way for the Aces was A’ja Wilson, who scored 24 points and grabbed 16 rebounds. Wilson’s outstanding performance earned her the Finals MVP title. She was also recognized as the 2023 Defensive Player of the Year and was selected for both the All-WNBA Team and All-Defensive Team this season.
“A lot of people doubted us, but that criticism motivated us. We were ready to prove ourselves on the court,” Wilson said.
The Aces faced challenges as they were without two of their starters. Point guard Chelsea Gray suffered a left foot injury during the final minutes of Game 3, and center Kiah Stokes experienced discomfort in her right foot between Games 3 and 4. This was the first game Gray missed all season.
Heading into Game 4, the Aces’ starting lineup of Wilson, Kelsey Plum, Jackie Young, Alysha Clark, and Cayla George had only played together for eight minutes. The team struggled to find their rhythm, resulting in eight turnovers in the first quarter. Wilson also faced foul trouble early on, forcing her to take a short break on the bench.
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The New York Liberty started strong, taking a 10-point lead after the first quarter. However, the Aces fought back with a 5-0 run at the start of the second quarter. The Liberty ended the first half with an 8-0 run, giving them a 39-30 lead at halftime. Both teams struggled with their shooting, which allowed the shorthanded Aces to stay in the game. The Aces made 13 of 35 field goal attempts in the first half, while the Liberty made 14 of 36.
Coming out of halftime, the Aces were determined to turn the game around.
A’ja Wilson took charge in the third quarter, scoring nine consecutive points to narrow the Liberty’s lead. Alysha Clark tied the game at 51-51 with a layup in the final seconds of the quarter, completing a 9-0 run for the Aces. The Aces outscored the Liberty 23-12 in the third quarter, giving them a two-point lead going into the final period.
The Aces staged an impressive comeback, overcoming a 12-point deficit to secure the championship title.
Jackie Young, who had been a key offensive player throughout the series, contributed 16 points and seven assists. Cayla George, MVP of the Australian WNBL, stepped up with 11 points, while Alysha Clark added 10 points and eight rebounds.
The New York Liberty put up a strong fight but couldn’t pull ahead in the end. Courtney Vandersloot led the Liberty with 19 points, seven rebounds, and six assists, bouncing back from her previous offensive struggles. Breanna Stewart, the 2023 WNBA MVP, had a challenging game, shooting just 3-of-17 from the field and scoring 10 points while grabbing 14 rebounds.
Rachel Adams is your WNBA insider, delivering comprehensive coverage of women’s basketball. With a commitment to highlighting the talent and achievements of WNBA players, she provides game analysis, player profiles, and inspiring stories from the league.