Aces rally past Liberty to become WNBA's first repeat champion in 21 years

Oct. 19 (UPI) -- A'ja Wilson logged a game-high 24 points and 16 rebounds and the Las Vegas Aces overcame a deficit and held back a late rally to win Game 4 of the WNBA Finals and become the league's first repeat champion in 21 years.

Wilson, who was named Finals MVP, made 11 of 21 shots in the 70-69 victory over the New York Liberty on Wednesday at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Aces, who posted the best regular-season record in the WNBA, managed to win playing without starters Chelsea Gray and Kiah Stokes.


"This is what it's all about," Wilson told reporters. "To have your name etched in history with other teams. We never gave up. This is a moment we need to celebrate. Not a lot of people get a chance to do it."

The Aces made 41.8% of their shots, compared to the Liberty's 36.1% clip. They outscored the Liberty 44 to 24 in the paint and overcame an early 12-point deficit.

The Liberty went on a 16-2 run about four minutes into the game to take a 21-11 lead in the first quarter and carried a 23-13 edge into the second.


Liberty guard Courtney Vandersloot scored nine points over the first 10 minutes. The Aces started the second with an 8-2 run, but the Liberty scored eight unanswered to end the quarter and carried a 39-30 lead into halftime.

Star guard Sabrina Ionescu drained a 3-pointer to start the third, giving the Liberty their largest lead. The Aces then used an 11-2 run to end the quarter and led 53-51 to start the fourth. Wilson scored nine points in the third quarter.

The Aces opened the fourth quarter with a 7-2 run and never trailed again. Wilson hit a jump shot with 1:27 remaining to give the Aces a 70-64 edge. Vandersloot responded with a 3-pointer 14 seconds later to cut the lead to three. She then stole the ball and assisted an Ionescu jumper to make the score 70-69 with 41 seconds remaining, but the Liberty could not convert in the final seconds.

Guard Jackie Young scored eight of her 16 points in the fourth quarter of the victory. Aces forwards Cayla George and Alysha Clark netted 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Vandersloot scored 19 points in the loss. Forward Betnijah Laney and Ionescu logged 15 and 13 points, respectively. WNBA MVP Breanna Stewart totaled 10 points, 14 rebounds and five assists for the Liberty.


The Aces are the third WNBA team to repeat as champions. The Los Angeles Sparks last accomplished the feat in 2001-02. The Houston Comets won titles from 1997 to 2000.

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