Jones, Stewart lead Liberty past Aces to avoid WNBA Finals sweep


NEW YORK (AP) — Jonquel Jones scored 27 points and Breanna Stewart added 20 to help the New York Liberty beat the Las Vegas Aces 87-73 on Sunday in the WNBA Finals and force a Game 4.

New York struggled in the first two games against the Aces in Las Vegas, but the Liberty found their shooting touch in Game 3 behind Jones, who hit four of the team’s 13 3-pointers.

“She was huge for us,” Liberty coach Sandy Brondello said of Jones, who came to the Liberty in a trade in the offseason. “Those 3’s changed the moment of the game a bit. The ball went in. Other games the ball wasn’t going in for us. We got back to our identity. Proud of the effort and commitment and connection we had. Now we’ve got to do it again.”

This was the Liberty’s first win in the WNBA Finals since Teresa Weatherspoon’s half-court shot in Game 2 against Houston in 1999. The Aces are up 2-1 in the best-of-five series and Game 4 is Wednesday night in New York.

The Liberty led by three at halftime before scoring the first eight points of the third quarter to take a double-digit lead, bringing the crowd of 17,143 to its feet. They led 61-50 after three quarters.

Behind A’ja Wilson, the Aces got to within six before Stewart hit a turnaround jumper and Betnijah Laney stole the ball from Jackie Young at half court and made a layup to extend the lead back to 10.

Las Vegas didn’t challenge the rest of the way and star guard Chelsea Gray went back to the locker room midway through the fourth quarter after injuring her foot.

“I can’t give you an update, I’ll let you know when we know,” Las Vegas coach Becky Hammon said.

Kelsey Plum scored 29 points and Wilson added 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Aces, who are looking to become the first team to win consecutive titles since the 2001-02 Los Angeles Sparks. That came on the heels of the Houston Comets winning the WNBA’s first four championships.

“This is a good team we’re talking about, obviously a different feeling in their place,” Wilson said of the Liberty. “We still have a chance to take care of business.”

The Aces had won their first seven games in this postseason by an average of 17.3 points. They were looking to become the first team to go 8-0 in a WNBA postseason and the first to not lose a game since Seattle in 2020.

The first two games of the series, as well as the four regular-season meetings, were all blowouts, with the closest game being a nine-point win by New York on Aug. 28. That was the last loss the Aces had until Sunday.

New York had stretches of playing well in the first half, buoyed by the sellout crowd that included NBA Commissioner Adam Silver as well as basketball greats Dawn Staley, Sue Bird and Tony Parker. The Liberty extended their lead to 41-34 on Jones’ layup with 2:27 left in the half before the Aces got within 43-40 at the break. Jones had 16 points in the first half while Plum scored 15.



Source link: https://sports.yahoo.com/home-cooking-jones-stewart-lead-225405546.html

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