A’ja Wilson scored 23 points Thursday night and Angel McCoughtry added 21 as the Las Vegas Aces toppled the short-handed Minnesota Lynx 87-77 in a battle of WNBA title contenders in Bradenton, Fla.
Kayla McBride contributed 17 points and five steals for Las Vegas (7-2), which is just a game behind Seattle for the league’s best record. Jackie Young came off the bench to tally 16 points as the Aces canned nearly 50 percent of their shots while committing only 11 turnovers.
Napheesa Collier recorded a 21-point, 14-rebound double-double for Minnesota (6-3), while Crystal Dangerfield chipped in 14 points and Kayla Alexander scored 11. However, the Lynx converted just 43.9 percent from the floor and coughed up 19 turnovers.
Minnesota was able to chop a 19-point second half deficit to seven when Rachel Banham bombed in a 3-pointer in the final minute of the third quarter. That made it 67-60, but Las Vegas rattled off 10 straight points to settle the game’s competitive phase, Young canning a jumper for a 77-60 cushion with 7:47 left.
Minnesota’s game plan went out the window exactly 1:23 into the game when center Sylvia Fowles reinjured her right calf and hopped off the floor in pain. The injury forced Fowles, who averages 16.7 points and 11.3 rebounds, to the bench for the night’s remainder.
Without the 6-foot-6 Fowles to protect the paint, Las Vegas was free to attack the basket. The Aces did just that, and although they didn’t shoot a high percentage for most of the half, they were able to hit 14 of 18 free throws and build a solid lead.
McCoughtry canned a jumper and two foul shots in the last 1:32 of the first quarter to give Las Vegas a 27-22 lead. After the Lynx pulled within 35-33 at the 5:25 mark of the second quarter on two free throws by Collier, the Aces ripped off an 18-4 spurt, Wilson’s 3-point play sending them to intermission with a 53-37 advantage.
–Field Level Media