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Aces’ big second half topples Liberty in Game 1 of Finals

Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young scored 26 points apiece and the Las Vegas Aces used a huge final 12 minutes to defeat the visiting New York Liberty 99-82 in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals on Sunday afternoon.

Chelsea Gray added 20 points and A’ja Wilson provided 19 points and a team-high eight rebounds to help fuel the Aces, who are bidding to repeat as champions in the best-of-five series. Four Las Vegas players outscored New York’s entire team.

Game 2 is Wednesday night in Las Vegas.

League MVP Breanna Stewart scored 11 of her 21 points in the second half for the Liberty, which is aiming for its first championship.

Jonquel Jones had 16 points and 10 rebounds, Marine Johannes provided 14 points off the bench, Betnijah Laney added 11 points and Courtney Vandersloot had 10 points and six assists for the Liberty.

New York shot 8-for-20 from 3-point range in the first half, but just 1-for-9 after intermission.

It was a close game for most of three quarters before the Aces broke away.

The Aces, who led only 63-61 with under 2 1/2 minutes to play in the third quarter, went on a tear. Young’s three-point play with 5.1 seconds left in the quarter created a 72-65 lead.

Then Las Vegas posted the first six points of the fourth and kept stretching its lead. Plum made four free throws in a 38-second stretch with Gray sinking a jumper in between for an 86-69 Aces advantage with 6:09 left.

Young was good on 5 of 8 3-point shots and Gray made 3 of 5 from long range.

The teams played a tight first half, though the offense began flowing late in the second. New York led 49-46 at the break.

Both teams had three players with double-figure point totals in the first half. Johannes had 14 points in 11 minutes on 4-for-5 shooting on 3s, but she didn’t score in the second half.

Plum had 14 first-half points as well, with the Aces using only six players in the opening half.

–Field Level Media

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