LAS VEGAS (May 27, 2018)—In a debut befitting of the Entertainment Capital of the World, the Las Vegas Aces nearly erased a 19-point deficit in front of a capacity crowd of 7,662 Sunday evening, but they couldn't quite close the gap, falling to the Seattle Storm , 105-98.
Las Vegas score 14 of the first 22 points of the game, but the Storm countered by netting 15 straight and never trailed again.
Seattle had their largest lead of the game of 19 at 59-40 early in the third quarter. The Aces chipped away at the lead cutting it to four at 98-94.
Seattle connected on 52.2 percent of their shots from the field including 46.2 percent from three-point range (12 of 26).
The Aces, who made just two three pointers in the team's first two games, went 5 for 10 from the three-point line.
The Storm outscored the Aces 16-0 on the fast break.
Las Vegas went to the free throw line more often than the opposition for the third straight game this season (30 to 24).
Nia Coffey established her career scoring high for the third straight game (23 points).
A'ja Wilson scored in double figures for the third straight game to start her professional career, scoring a career-high 27.
Kayla McBride scored 21 points in her Las Vegas debut. In her final game from 2017, she poured in 28 points at Indiana.
The 105 points allowed by the Aces is two off the opponent record of 107 set on two occasions.
Boyz II Men sand the national anthem pregame, while Jabbawockeez performed at halftime. Cast members from Michael Jackson ONE™ by Cirque du Soleil got the crowd hyped up before the entered the game, performing throughout Mandalay Bay and leading a parade to the entrance to the Events Center.
Aces Head Coach Bill Laimbeer
On the development of the team, and the experience in the Mandalay Bay Events Center ....
I think we’re learning, but we have a long way to go. We know we’re not the best basketball team right now. We just added a couple of player, and we are still missing a couple of players. But there are no excuses in this league. It never stops. The most important thing we can do as a young team is learn from our mistakes. We will see it on the film, some missed assignments defensively. They got some open looks. I give them credit. They made some good shots
I thought the experience in the building was great. I think our players will look back on this day as a start not only for them, but also for our fans.
On the way A’ja Wilson asserted herself …
It was a matter of time before she took over in a lot of ways. She still has a lot more in her. She is still learning. And what helped also was we had Kayla McBride out there as a shooter, and Coffey today, she became a shooter. When we can spread the floor it opens the floor up for her to drive.
On the fast pace of the game …
I think we would like to play at that pace. We are athletic. We have some players that can run. We are young. There is no reason we can’t play at that pace all day. There will be times during the season when we have back to backs that we will have to rely more on our bench. I’ll play at a high pace. It’s what the league wants also-a higher scoring game, (laughing) but that’s twice now that we’ve given up more than 100 points, and we can’t score 100 points, so we need to get some stops somewhere.
Aces Forward A’ja Wilson
On what clicked in the second half that didn’t necessarily click in the first half…
I don’t know necessarily if we didn’t click. It’s just a game of runs and we knew we just had to run it. We knew it was in us; so we kept fighting, we kept pushing and Coach Bill just told us “Don’t lay down, don’t give up.” And that is really what’s built inside of us as competitors. For us to come out like that, it’s really special. Coming out and fighting like that is really the future of this team.
On what went right for them and what went wrong for your team?
They were knocking shots and that’s pretty much it. They were hitting shots and we weren’t and they were getting more opportunities. But as the game went on you saw that we weren’t giving them second chances anymore. And in the second half we weren’t really turning it over, and that’s a great team. I like the way we played and the effort we had.
On what coach was telling her on the bench in the fourth quarter.
He was just asking if I was okay. I guess he looked over and saw something in my eyes that I wasn’t okay. I don’t know what he saw, but I was. I think he just wanted to make sure that I kept pushing because he knew it was in me. To have a coach like that that’s really confident in you is really special and you don’t want to disappoint him. And that’s what I don’t want to do I don’t want to disappoint coach so I’m always going to give it my all.
On what went well for her, how comfortable she feels.
I feel pretty comfortable. I just take what the defense gives me. Having Kayla McBride come back opened up a lot of things. She’s knocking out a lot of shots and hitting a lot of shots and it is really helpful for us. I took what my defense gave me and started to work. My teammates really fed me the ball and forced me to make plays. I did it sometimes in college, but now big time especially being a rookie, it’s special that they trust me with the ball and to make plays.
Aces Forward Nia Coffey
On what’s working for her.
Bill is clear and direct with what he saw in me and what he needed me to do. During our offense I make sure that I’m doing what I need to do. I take advantage of the moment and take advantage of the match up to really show what I can do for this team.
On what it was like to be at the home season opener and hearing the crowd
It was absolutely amazing I don’t think I will ever experience it again this way because this is the first game in our home town. This isn’t an away game it’s our home crowd and it’s such a beautiful thing. They want us to do well and they want to support us. It makes us work harder and helps us play better. Being down wasn’t the other team’s fault or anyone else’s; it was all self-inflicted. I think that’s great because that means we can fix it for the next game.
On possessions and how comfortable she thinks the team is with playing at that pace.
We’re a young team and we pride ourselves on defensive transitions and we’re definitely working on all of those pieces, We’re taking advantage of our youth because we can run. We have a lot of runners on our team. But no one wants to go on defense that fast; Going up and down is hard. If we could keep doing good stops, we’re going to be just fine.
On Sue Bird and how she was able to affect the game.
Her leadership is amazing the fact that she can slow down the game so much and make the game so simple for a team they just got easy things. It wasn’t complicated. She’s able to understand her players, what they do well and put them in those spots. On the other hand, we need to make sure she doesn’t see those things to make it hard on her and to check her team.
On the potential of the team
We need to start by when we come out to play we come out with that same energy in the first half and the second half. We want to make sure we show our fans we’re working out for them and making sure it’s something they enjoy.
Storm Head Coach Dan Hughes
On the win ….
This was a special game. When you saw the crowd and the celebration of the WNBA being in Vegas - that wasn’t lost on us. We were excited to be a part of that opening. I looked at the players and I think they saw it too. I didn’t have to work hard to get them up o for this game.
On playing in Las Vegas …
It’s interesting because, I’ve played in a lot of citifies but the fact that I’m in Vegas, today’s my 40th wedding anniversary, but I came here for something really special - women professional basketball in Mandalay Bay in this city. I’ve seen a lot of evolution of players and of our sport and to be a part of this one was a privilege.
Storm center Breanna Stewart
On the win ….
It felt great, honestly. We know this is their home opener, having the relocation, things were crazy in the arena tonight. Having the people and performers they have here, the crowd was insane. This is a big win on the road for us.
On playing in Las Vegas ….
It’s nice. It’s nice to be here on Memorial Day Weekend. It’s a little bit crazier than it might usually be but I think walking around Mandalay Bay, you see all the advertisements for the team and how excited they are. They are taking care of the team and hopefully helping the WNBA.
Storm Guard Jewell Loyd
On the win ….
I feel good. I think coming here, it’s a home opener, everyone’s excited. We knew that the Aces would be motivated, for us we just stayed the course. The first quarter motivated us. We did what we normally do, come out aggressive, make shots, move the ball and we had that rhythm thought the whole game.
On playing in Las Vegas ….
It’s awesome! The atmosphere is amazing. Anything in Vegas is always exciting - no matter what it is…you can look at the stands and it was packed. It was awesome to see people are coming to the games and supporting. It makes us feel a lot better and it’s an all around good atmosphere.