August 7, 2020 

Aces notebook: Angel answers the call, DRob delivers

Offseason additions come up big in win over Washington

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These weren’t the same Aces and Mystics that squared off in last year’s semifinals. But both teams are motivated to make postseason runs this year, and their first of two matchups in this 2020 regular season certainly delivered. Washington led by as many as 11 points in the first half. Las Vegas held on for an 83-77 victory, led by their two big February free-agent acquisitions. 

Angel McCoughtry finished the first half with four turnovers and just one field goal attempt. McCoughtry and A’ja Wilson played the entire fourth quarter on Wednesday. McCoughtry, a six-time All-WNBA selection, came through in the clutch with nine points in the fourth. Several of those scores came in the first 10 seconds of the shot clock. McCoughtry knocked down a 3-pointer and a mid-range jumper coming off a screen. A bucket from Wilson sandwiched by the two McCoughtry jumpers put the Aces up six early in the fourth. 

McCoughtry also found Dearica Hamby for a layup after drawing multiple defenders on a drive down the baseline. The Aces got McCoughtry into the post later in the period. With Hamby’s ability to spot up on the perimeter, they were able to open up some room for McCoughtry to go to work inside. 

McCoughtry struck again out of the post on the next possession, ducking in and drawing a foul on Aerial Powers. With the Aces in the bonus at that point, McCoughtry was able to earn a quick trip to the free-throw line. 

Pace has become a big part of the Aces’ identity. They played at the fastest pace in the league last season, averaging 13.67 seconds per offensive possession, according to McCoughtry, one of the most devastating transition scorers in league history, fits right in there. This grab-and-go in the first half illustrates the pressure McCoughtry puts on the defense, even when the Aces aren’t able to get a pure runout in transition. 

Danielle Robinson, the other big February signing by the Aces, went 4-for-4 at the foul line in the final 30 seconds of the game to help insulate the team from a last-ditch comeback effort by the Mystics. Robinson gave the team a much-needed spark earlier in the game getting to the rim and finding the range with her midrange pull-up. Robinson’s strong play continued in the second half. Even when the Mystics ducked under screens, Robinson revved it up to beat them to the other side. 

Robinson disrupted Washington’s guards with her ball pressure throughout the game and converted a few tough finishes at the rim. 

With McCoughtry and Robinson firing on all cylinders, the Aces will have two reliable sources of dribble penetration, taking some pressure off of Wilson—sure to be the priority for opponents all season long. In just the fifth game of this shortened season after an extremely limited training camp, these two new Aces showed us how they can help this team win close games in 2020.

Written by Ben Dull

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