WNBA

Las Vegas Aces Dominate New York Liberty In WNBA Finals Opener

Oct 8, 2023, 3:40 PM

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Chelsea Gray #12 of the Las Vegas Aces slaps hands with Jackie Young #0 after Young hit a basket and drew a foul against the New York Liberty in the third quarter of Game One of the 2023 WNBA Playoffs finals at Michelob ULTRA Arena on October 08, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Aces defeated the Liberty 99-82. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Jackie Young and Kelsey Plum each scored 26 points and the defending champion Las Vegas Aces pulled away from the New York Liberty in the second half to win 99-82 on Sunday in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals.

Aces take 1-0 series lead in WNBA Finals

Las Vegas point guard Chelsea Gray added 20 points and nine assists on her 31st birthday, A’ja Wilson had 19 points and eight rebounds. Young made 5 of 8 3-pointers.

Five New York players scored in double figures. This season’s league MVP, Breanna Stewart, led the Liberty with 21 points, Jonquel Jones totaled 16 points and 10 rebounds and Marine Johannes came off the bench to score 14. Sabrina Ionescu, who entered averaging 16.3 points in the playoffs, was held to seven.

Game 2 of the best-of-five series is Wednesday in Las Vegas.

In one of the most anticipated Finals in recent memory with three WNBA MVPs, this game instead played out like the regular-season meetings between the teams in which the closest outcome was nine points.

The Aces made sure of that by turning into another one-sided game going on an 11-2 run that turned a 67-63 advantage late in the third quarter into a 78-65 lead early in the fourth. Las Vegas led by as much as 94-72 with 3:32 remaining.

No team this postseason has solved the Aces, who are 6-0. The Liberty proved they could beat Las Vegas in the regular season, but for a franchise still chasing its first championship, New York will have to come back with a considerably different response.

STAR POWER

Seven-time Super Bowl champion quarterback and newly approved Aces minority owner Tom Brady sat courtside next to Las Vegas majority owner Mark Davis.

Brady was part of a celebrity turnout that also included Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, actor and Las Vegas resident Mark Walhberg and Hall of Famer Sheryl Swoopes.

Recording artist Ashanti performed at halftime.

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Las Vegas Aces Dominate New York Liberty In WNBA Finals Opener