July 30, 2020 

Aces cruise to first win of the season

Angel McCoughtry squared off with the Dream for the first time

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PALMETTO, FL- JULY 29: A’ja Wilson #22 of the Las Vegas Aces drives to the basket against the Atlanta Dream on July 29, 2020 at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida.

“You know how the rules go. People say they don’t wanna lose against their former team.”

That much was never in doubt for Angel McCoughtry on Wednesday as the Las Vegas Aces defeated the Atlanta Dream 100-70. McCoughtry suited up as an opponent for the Dream for the first time after 10 seasons with the franchise.

“It was different,” she said. “It was a little weird because you’ve been with that team for so long. But I’m where I belong with the Aces, and it was a lot of fun tonight.”

McCoughtry tallied 12 points and seven rebounds in 15 minutes. The Aces led by 12 at halftime and continued to build on that lead in the third period. No player on the Aces logged more than 27 minutes, which is sure to help as they turn right around to play Phoenix on Friday.

“These are the games that we honestly need to capitalize on, especially playing so late at night,” A’ja Wilson said postgame. “It’s such a quick turnaround this season that we have to be prepared for anything because the next team is doing the same thing.”

The Aces got their first in-person look at No. 4 overall pick Chennedy Carter, one of four players to score in double figures for the Dream. Atlanta had just nine players available on Wednesday but expect to have Glory Johnson and Courtney Williams back soon. Aces head coach and president of basketball operations Bill Laimbeer was very pleased with his team’s defensive performance.

“I thought our team played an outstanding defensive basketball game today,” he said. “Executed the gameplan across the board. They helped each other. It was a lot of fun to watch.”

Wilson scored a team-high 21 points followed by Dearica Hamby with 20 points, including two 3-pointers, and seven rebounds. Kayla McBride added two triples as well to get back on track after shooting 0-for-7 in the season opener. Seven of Atlanta’s nine players on Wednesday are new faces. What does a team hone in on, then, running into a new group like this so early in the season?

“Stop their easy baskets,” Laimbeer said. “We took that away tonight. They’re also one-on-one drivers, which is their forte also. We took that away from ‘em tonight. Tried to make ‘em into a jump shot shooting team, which we did, and they didn’t go in.”

Laimbeer told reporters earlier this week that he hopes to sign another player soon, possibly a versatile player that can get some minutes at either forward position. The team has a vacant roster spot after waiving Alex Bentley last week.

Sugar Rodgers was in practice for the first time on Tuesday and logged 16 minutes in Wednesday’s game. The eighth-year pro arrived just in time to suit up for Sunday’s game. She disclosed on Instagram that she had previously tested positive for coronavirus. Upon her arrival in Florida, she made it through league protocols in order to officially join the team on Sunday.

Written by Ben Dull

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