September 12, 2022 

Daily Briefing — Sept. 12, 2022: Las Vegas Aces grab gritty Game 1 over Connecticut

Low scores galore and USAB World Cup cuts

Happy Monday! Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing featuring Yesterday’s Recap. Day 12 of the WNBA post-season is behind us, though with the rapid-fire pace of the remaining matches you won’t be without playoff basketball for too long. On Sunday afternoon, in front of a sold-out Las Vegas crowd of just over 10,000, the Aces and Sun matched up for a grueling 40-minutes of basketball. By scoring output and pacing, the match operated similarly to games 1, 3 and 5 of the Sky–Sun series, with plenty of scoreless minutes to match. In the final minutes of the fourth, aided by Kelsey Plum’s first and only made field goal of the game, the Las Vegas Aces managed to pull away just enough to keep the Sun at bay.

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Then, on Sunday afternoon, USA Basketball announced the next round of cuts to the FIBA World Cup roster. Kayla McBride, Aerial Powers, Angel McCoughtry, Natasha Howard and Katie Lou Samuelson are no longer listed on the updated roster, while Breanna Stewart, Jewell Loyd and Kahleah Copper have joined the camp following the conclusion of their WNBA seasons. Additionally, Courtney Williams and Dearica Hamby are no longer expected to report at the conclusion of the WNBA Finals.

In addition, World Cup rosters for Japan and Mali were announced, leaving China as the only team remaining without a preliminary roster. Final rosters are due Sept. 21, the day before matches begin.

But first, read:

  • Our Jacqueline LeBlanc details the slow and steady growth of the Connecticut Sun over the course of the playoffs, and how their persistence may provide a boost in the Finals.
  • Our Gabriella Lewis checks in with Rookie of the Year Rhyne Howard, from Team USA camp and the joys of playing with Aliyah Boston, to off-season plans.
  • Our Jenn Hatfield sets the scene for a hopeful Columbia season through eight-days of international basketball and team bonding.
  • Our James Kay breaks down the upcoming free agency period for the Chicago Sky.

Recap, Sunday, Sept. 11 — Finals

Las Vegas beat Connecticut, 67–64, to take a 1–0 series lead. The Aces took an early seven-point lead, and managed to stay ahead of the Sun through the first quarter. In the opening minutes of the second, however, Connecticut went on a 6–0 run to cut the lead to two. By halftime, the Sun had taken over the lead, having limited Las Vegas to just nine points in the second quarter. The teams traded baskets through the mid-third quarter, neither finding significant success at or away from the basket. Late in the third, however, the Aces managed to sink a couple of shots to re-gain the advantage. They would build on that cushion through the fourth quarter as the Sun struggled to respond in kind. As the final minutes wound down, the Sun forced back-to-back turnovers on Aces point guard Chelsea Gray to pull the Sun within three. But, as Connecticut fumbled the final possession out of a timeout, it wasn’t enough to tie the lead the Aces had built.

Overall, the Sun shot 10.5 percentage points better from three than the Aces, who went 5-for-24 from deep. The Aces took more than double the free throws, sinking 16-for-19 from the line to Connecticut’s 3-for-5. The Sun grabbed five more steals, and assisted on 10 more plays than the Aces, while scoring 20 more paint points than Las Vegas. The Sun also prevented the Aces from scoring a single point in transition, logging 12 fast break points themselves. The Aces’ zero assists in the second quarter was a first for them in any quarter this season, per ESPN’s Alexa Philippou.

Center A’ja Wilson led the Aces and all scorers with a double-double of 24 points on 6-for-11 shooting (12–14 FT) and 11 rebounds, along with two steals and four blocks. Gray notched 21 points on 9-for-17 shooting (2–7 3pt.), two rebounds and three assists against six turnovers. Wing Jackie Young had 11 points on 5-for-12 shooting (1–3 3pt.), and three rebounds.

For the Sun, big wing Alyssa Thomas led with a double-double of 19 points on 9-for-16 from the field and 11 rebounds (five offensive), along with five assists, three steals and three blocks. Big Jonquel Jones notched 15 points on 7-for-15 shooting (1–4 3pt), nine rebounds (six offensive) and two assists. Center Brionna Jones contributed 12 points on 6-for-11 from the field, one rebound and one steal in her 17 minutes off the bench.

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Written by Isabel Rodrigues

Isabel Rodrigues (she/her) is a contributing editor for The Next from upstate New York. She occasionally covers 3x3 and labor in women's basketball.

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