Jackie Young and Kelsey Plum each scored 26 points and the defending champion Las Vegas Aces pulled away from the New York Liberty in the second half to win 99-82 on Sunday in Game 1 of the WNBA finals.
Las Vegas point guard Chelsea Gray added 20 points and nine assists on her 31st birthday, A’ja Wilson had 19 points and eight rebounds. Young made five of her eight three-pointers.
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Five New York players scored in double figures. This season’s league MVP, Breanna Stewart, led the Liberty with 21 points, Jonquel Jones totaled 16 points and 10 rebounds and Marine Johannes came off the bench to score 14. Sabrina Ionescu, who entered averaging 16.3 points in the playoffs, was held to seven.
In one of the most anticipated finals in recent memory, with three WNBA MVPs, this game instead played out like the regular-season meetings between the teams in which the closest outcome was nine points.
The Aces made sure of that by turning it into another one-sided game, going on an 11-2 run that turned a 67-63 advantage late in the third quarter into a 78-65 lead early in the fourth. Las Vegas led by as much as 94-72 with 3:32 remaining.
No team this postseason have solved the Aces, who are 6-0. The Liberty proved they could beat Las Vegas in the regular season, but for a franchise still chasing its first championship, New York will have to come back with a considerably different response in Game 2.