Jonquel Jones scores career-high as Liberty defeat Aces in WNBA Finals rematch

The league’s two best superteams put on a show reminiscent of last year’s WNBA Finals that ended with the Aces celebrating their second-consecutive title.

But Saturday’s rematch was a bit different, with both teams missing their starting point guards in a lower stakes regular-regular season game that ended with the Liberty winning, 90-82, at Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas.

Against the current MVP frontrunner — A’ja Wilson — Jonquel Jones put on a dominant performance in front of a national TV audience that’ll force voters to keep an eye on the all-around star sporting New York’s seafoam colors.

Jones led the way with a career-high 34 points and eight rebounds. She shot 12-for-16 from the field, including four made treys. It’s her third straight game with at least 20 points and eight rebounds.

Whether it was in the paint or on the perimeter, Jones caused havoc all afternoon. And her dagger trey with 2:39 remaining in the regulation forced Aces head coach Becky Hammon to call timeout while the 2021 MVP celebrated her 30th point of the night.

Saturday’s win against Las Vegas is the Liberty’s eight straight victory. On the other hand, the Aces lost for the fifth time in seven games. The Liberty now have a 1-0 season series lead after taking advantage of a struggling Aces team without Chelsea Gray, who has yet to play in the 2024 season after suffering a foot injury in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals last year. 

Gray was listed as available, but didn’t play Saturday.

Sandy Brondello’s squad made sure to steal a road win against a possible postseason opponent, getting them closer to home-court advantage if they again cross paths in the postseason. 

The Aces should eventually get back on track, but looked sloppy without Gray Saturday. The early see-saw battle fell apart in the second half with the Liberty entering the fourth quarter up seven following a 14-0 run in the third. By then, the game was out of reach with the Libs getting their largest lead of the game in the fourth. The Liberty’s strong outing negated Wilson’s 12th straight game with 20 points. She logged 21 points, nine rebounds and a block in the loss.

The Liberty started the game making seven of eight treys, including Sabrina Ionescu’s logo three-pointer to end the first. But they eventually shot 1-for-12 from downtown afterwards while Kelsey Plum caught fire.

The Aces went on two separate runs in the second: an 8-0 run to tie the game at 30 and another 10-2 run following a Liberty push. Plum propelled her team with 14 points in the quarter on five made field goals, including two from deep. And she let Ionescu know she was too small to guard her after converting an and-one.

Despite Jones’ 17 points at halftime, the Aces were down just two and benefitted from a stalled Liberty offense to start the third.

The Aces went up six after another run of their own in the early moments of the third, but that was the last time Hammon’s squad had a grip on the game.

It was all Jones from there, as she scored 17 points in the second half en route to victory.

Ionescu again handled point guard duties with Courtney Vandersloot out (personal reasons). The Oregon product logged 15 points and 12 assists. Breanna Stewart scored 14 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and recorded two steals. Laney-Hamilton logged 12 points and seven rebounds.

Plum eventually cooled off and finished with 22 points. Alysha Clark and Jackie Young scored 13 and 10 points, respectively.

Source link

Back to top button