August 23, 2023
A’ja Wilson ties WNBA single-game scoring record with 53-point masterpiece
"She runs like a deer, jumps like a cat and catches as if she were a Spider-Man."
A’ja Wilson already has two WNBA MVPs and a championship to her name. But on Tuesday night, she etched herself further into the league’s record books by tying the single-game scoring record.
Wilson scored 53 points in the Las Vegas Aces’ 112-100 victory over the Atlanta Dream in College Park, Georgia.
Wilson’s outing tied Liz Cambage for most points in WNBA history, after Cambage’s prior 53-point night on July 17, 2018.
Wilson, who turned 27 two weeks ago, went 16-for-23 from the field, making her only 3-point attempt (which is just her fifth 3-pointer of the season) and going 20-for-21 from the free-throw line. Wilson is just the second player in WNBA history to make 20 or more free throws in one game (Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, 22-for-24 on July 3, 1998).
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Those are just a few of several noteworthy statistics from the third time any WNBA player has scored 50 or more points in a single game —other than Cambage and Wilson, the only other player is Wilson’s Aces teammate Riquna Williams (51 points on Sept. 8, 2013).
According to Across The Timeline, Wilson has scored 160 points in the last five games, the fourth-most points in a five-game stretch in WNBA history.
“My teammates found me and my spots, and I was really aggressive today,” Wilson said. “I don’t think there’s anything different that I’ve been doing and just went into the hoop a little bit more. But other than that, I feel like our defense was sucky in the beginning, but it started opening up a lot. Once we started buckling in or throughout the second half, so opened up a lot of different things for us to score the basketball.”
As an added bonus, Wilson achieved this record just a few hours south of her Columbia, South Carolina hometown. So not only where many South Carolina Gamecock fans in attendance on Tuesday night, but some members of her family were, too.
“It’s super dope,” Wilson said. “My mom is at work. She couldn’t make it to the game, and I’m so sorry, Mommy. But, that was super cool to see my brother and my dad in the stands but always just Gamecock fans, everybody in between just fans of us. It’s cool that we can come out and entertain them in this way. So it’s a blessing to be able to have a following. For all of us. It’s a big deal.”
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Wilson had set a new personal high just 10 days ago when she dropped 40 points against the Washington Mystics on Aug. 12. Now, less than two weeks later, she’s added another dominant scoring effort, which she credited to her Aces teammates.
“I’m out there having fun,” Wilson said. “I get an opportunity to play with some amazing women. I get to come to work every single day to play basketball. So I don’t take these moments for granted, but it wasn’t like a feeling like ‘Oh my god,’ it was just kind of just in the flow and that’s why I appreciate them the most.”
Aces head coach and reigning WNBA Coach of the Year Becky Hammon couldn’t help but hyperbolize Wilson after the game —something you can’t blame her for doing.
“She runs like a deer, jumps like a cat and catches as if she were a Spider-Man,” Hammon said. “She is just special. Her real gift is in her humility and grace in how she handles herself and her teammates all the time. Like she is a phenomenal superstar.
“She’s about winning and lifting her teammates up. And her teammates adore her for it. You can’t help but love the person that she is so as special as she is on the court.”
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Aces guard Kelsey Plum added on to her coach’s praises.
“I mean, she’s just different, man,” Plum said. “I feel like I’ve said this on the broadcast after the game. But I really feel like we’re watching just generational talent. And I think that we’ve got to stop comparing people and just let them be great. What we’re seeing right now is historic, and it’s just the beginning. So, I get the privilege of seeing it every day in practice and locker room and stuff like that. But this is one of the greatest players of all time, and she’s just starting to play, which is crazy.”
With Tuesday’s win over Atlanta, the Las Vegas Aces tied the WNBA record for most wins in a single season, matching the 2019 Phoenix Mercury’s 29 wins. That Phoenix team won those games in a 34-game season, while the Aces will have another seven games to finish this year’s 40-game slate.
Sitting at 29-4, the Aces could become the WNBA’s first-ever 30-win team on Thursday in Chicago, when they take on the Sky. If Las Vegas wins each of its final seven regular season games, they will tie the 1998 Houston Rockets (27-3) for best winning percentage in WNBA history, at .900.
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Written by Aya Abdeen
Aya Abdeen is a student in sports journalism at Arizona State University and has been a contributing writer for The Next Hoops since December 2022. Her work has also appeared on AZPreps365.