Video Credit: WNBA

FSM Essential Recap: Aces vs. Mercury – Game 32

Franchise Sports Media

Las Vegas Aces (24-8) | Phoenix Mercury (19-13)



The Las Vegas Aces ended the 2021 regular season with a thrilling come-from-behind win over the Phoenix Mercury that included some feel-good moments down the stretch.  




Aces vs Mercury
Photo Credit: Las Vegas Aces

For the final time all regular season, Jackie Young put the first points on the board for the Las Vegas Aces. A’ja Wilson and Chelsea Gray followed to make the score 6-0 before Skylar Diggins-Smith drained a three from the top of the arc, enabling the bench and the home crowd to settle into their seats. Diggins-Smith hit another, and just like that, a competitive game broke out.

The Mercury took a 14-10 lead when Sophie Cunningham dribbled the length of the court into a transition three, but the Aces countered with Wilson down low — evening the score at 17. Yet, it was Phoenix’s three-ball that kept them on top, as they converted on seven triples in the quarter. They took a four-point lead over the Aces into the second frame.

Dearica Hamby opened the quarter with a tough back-to-the-basket bucket that gave Vegas their 18th paint-points of the game. Still, Phoenix held the lead and expanded it to 10 behind more three-point production from Cunningham and Shey Peddy.

However, the lead slowly evaporated after Riquna Williams nailed three straight three-pointers (one later changed to a long two) to bring the Aces’ offense back to life. The Aces would trim the deficit to as little as three points behind Williams’ hot hand, but Phoenix ended the half with a Kia Nurse triple that gave the Mercury a 47-43 edge.

The Aces took a page out of the Mercury’s first-half playbook and opened the third by making two out of three from beyond the arc — one from Chelsea Gray and one from Riquna Williams. Phoenix grew cold, and Vegas took their first lead since the first quarter when Kelsey Plum found Liz Cambage — back from a five-game absence — rolling to the rim. The lead was short-lived, however. The Mercury players took turns converting around the rim during an 8-0 run that put the home team back ahead by seven points. Plum’s three points to close the quarter kept the Aces within striking distance with 10 minutes left to play.

Defense defined the opening minutes of the final frame for each team as the two squads struggled to put points on the board.

Aces vs Mercury
Photo Credit: WNBA

For the Aces, it was Dearica Hamby’s five points that carried all of the weight through the first five minutes, while Cunningham was the catalyst for Phoenix until a pair of Kia Nurse’s three’s put the Mercury up eight. But, as she’s done so many times this season, Kelsey Plum scored 13 straight points for Vegas to put them in a position to win, before Jackie Young rebounded and put back a Plum miss to put Vegas up one with 4.3 seconds to play. Phoenix had one last shot at victory when Brianna Turner drove to the rim but was met and rejected by Ji-Su Park right before the final horn sounded. Vegas ended their season with an 84-83 win.




Bench Production – Kelsey Plum and Dearica Hamby showed why they are two of the best players in the league off the bench, but there were other notable contributors in Sunday’s game. Liz Cambage came off the bench in her first game action in over three weeks and looked pretty good. She’ll have some rust to knock off before the playoffs, but her presence is just so valuable. Ji-Su Park also came up big for the Aces’ bench as she tallied two crucial blocked shots down the stretch of the game, including the game-winning rejection.

Health – The Aces were able to end their regular season without having any injuries (except for Angel McCoughtry, who missed nearly the entire season). Vegas will have more than a week to keep fresh and ready themselves for a championship push. They’ll need every player. 





Defending the Three – Phoenix made seven three-pointers in the first quarter before finishing with 14 total makes. The Aces made some adjustments in the second half with their pick-and-roll defense that slowed the Mercury a little from behind the arc, but they’ll have to have the correct gameplan in order from the opening tip during these playoffs.



The Aces will rest through the two rounds of single-elimination games before learning who their opponent will be in the seminfials. They’ll host their first playoff game on September 28th. Stay tuned to the website, and to social media, for updates on details moving forward.

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-Cole Huff– Franchise Sports Media

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