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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Shorthanded Las Vegas hangs on to win second straight WNBA championship

A’ja Wilson holds the championship trophy aloft Wednesday after Las Vegas eliminated New York 70-69 in Game 4 of the WNBA Finals in Brooklyn, New York.  (Tribune News Service)
By Danny Webster Las Vegas Sun

NEW YORK – Somehow. Someway. The Las Vegas Aces did it.

Despite being down two starters, the Aces rallied in the second half, then hung on for a 70-69 win over the New York Liberty to win their second consecutive WNBA championship in Game 4 at Barclays Center on Wednesday.

A’ja Wilson finished with 24 points and 16 rebounds, and Jackie Young scored nine of her 16 points in the fourth quarter as the Aces become the first team since the 2001-02 Los Angeles Sparks to win back-to-back titles.

Liberty point guard Courtney Vandersloot’s shot to beat the buzzer was an airball.

This is going to go down as one of the greatest coaching displays Becky Hammon may have. The Aces were down point guard Chelsea Gray and center Kiah Stokes in a sold-out road environment. She started Cayla George, who hadn’t started a WNBA game since August 2018, to provide spacing and playmaking from the five spot.

George, in place of Stokes, finished with 11 points, four rebounds and three assists in 30 minutes.

The Aces were the best defensive team in the regular season and had to rely on that side to keep them within striking range. The Liberty shot 33.9% from the floor through three quarters and the Aces outscored them 23-12 in the third.

More important, the Aces took a 53-51 lead into the final quarter. Leading the way, as she did many times before, was Wilson with 18 points and 14 rebounds through 30 minutes.

The Aces maintained momentum through the first 2 minutes of the fourth quarter with Young scoring five of their first seven points to push the lead to 60-53. New York answered following back-to-back 3-point misses from Plum, with Sabrina Ionescu hitting a three with 6:34 left, cutting the Aces’ lead to 60-58.

But behind the play of their MVP and resilient play down the stretch, the Aces can lay claim to being the best team in the league again.