After losing Game 1 of the WNBA Finals, the task for the Aces was to figure out how to slow the Seattle Storm’s stars.
The did a better job of that in Game 2, so the Storm spread the offensive wealth to everyone.
Breanna Stewart had 22 points, Natasha Howard and Alysha Clark scored 21 apiece, and the Storm put the Aces in a 2-0 hole in the best-of-five finals Sunday with a 104-91 victory at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
Sue Bird had 16 points, and her 10 assists helped the Storm to a finals-record 33. They shot 57.1 percent, including 12 of 26 from 3-point range.
“Everybody knew coming in they had a full contingent and were going to be quality players,” Aces coach Bill Laimbeer said. “We missed (Dearica) Hamby very badly. They have their full squad, and they can keep fresher legs than we can. At the same time, we still have enough to get the job done.”
A’ja Wilson had 20 points and seven rebounds, Angel McCoughtry finished with 17 points and eight rebounds and Emma Cannon tied her career high with 17 points for the Aces, who shot 52 percent, including 8 of 19 from 3-point range.
Kayla McBride scored 14, and Danielle Robinson had 10 assists to lead the Aces to 28, which would have been a finals record if not for Seattle’s output.
Here are three takeaways:
1. Aces throw away chances
The Aces were better offensively than in Game 1, but they committed 16 turnovers.
While the turnovers didn’t lead to extended runs for Seattle, they kept the Aces from getting enough shots to offset the Storm’s efficiency.
“The biggest thing we need to adjust is taking care of the basketball,” Wilson said. “It’s harder with the Seattle defense, but at the same time, it’s a lot on us. We just need to adjust and communicate with each other.”
The Aces committed three turnovers in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter after cutting their deficit to six points, which helped the Storm push the margin back to double figures.
2. “No favor” from officials
No team was better at getting to the free-throw line than the Aces this season, averaging with 23.4 attempts.
They outscored the Storm 46-44 in the paint, but their aggressiveness didn’t pay off in free throws. They shot five, the third fewest for a team in a finals game. The Storm were 12 of 15 from the line.
“We had no favor from the referees today,” Laimbeer said. “That was a determining factor in this ballgame where we got fouled and didn’t get calls and they got fouled and got the call. They go to the line and they’re jump-shot shooters? Please. That makes no sense.”
The Aces made all five of their free throws. It was the fewest they have shot in a game since moving to Las Vegas.
3. Supporting cast success
Stewart and Jewell Loyd combined for 30 points after going for 65 in Game 1, but the Storm found plenty of offense elsewhere.
Clark shook off a 2-for-13 performance in Game 1 by making five 3-pointers in a 7-for-13 game, and Howard hit 9 of 10 shots. Jordin Canada scored six of her 10 points early in the fourth quarter to keep the Aces from going on a run.
For the Aces, Cannon shot 8-for-10 and Sugar Rodgers made three 3-pointers after going 0 of 9 on 3s in the playoffs before Sunday.
Aces’ Wilson named to All-WNBA first team
Aces forward A’ja Wilson, the WNBA MVP, was a unanimous selection to the All-WNBA first team, the league announced Sunday.
Wilson and Los Angeles forward Candace Parker were the only two players named on all 47 ballots in voting by a national panel of sports writers and broadcasters.
Joining Wilson and Parker on the first team were Seattle forward Breanna Stewart, Chicago guard Courtney Vandersloot and Dallas guard Arike Ogunbowale.
The second team consisted of Phoenix guards Diana Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith, Connecticut forward DeWanna Bonner, Minnesota forward Napheesa Collier and Washington forward Myisha Hines-Allen.
Jason Orts Review-Journal