LAS VEGAS (August 15, 2023)—The Las Vegas Aces could not overcome a poor shooting night with its usual strong defense, and fell to the New York Liberty 82-63 in the Commissioner’s Cup Championship game on Tuesday night at Michelob ULTRA Arena. The Liberty, who scored 45 points from behind the arc, were led by 2023 Commissioner’s Cup MVP Jonquel Jones with 16 points and 15 rebounds, while Courtney Vandersloot also posted a double-double with 11 points and 10 assists. Las Vegas, which connected on just 33.3 percent of its field goals, received 16 points from Jackie Young and 15 apiece from Chelsea Gray and Kelsey Plum.
First Quarter Highlights (New York 17, Las Vegas 11)
The third Commissioner’s Cup Championship game tipped-off with strong defenses on both sides of the court, which produced a combined 0 of 12 shooting from the floor. The first points were put up by A’ja Wilson with a pair of free throws at 6:29, while Breanna Stewart hit the game’s first field goal, a 3-pointer, at 6:12. The Aces continued to struggle to find the bottom of the net and trailed 17-8 following back-to-back 3s from reserve Marine Johannés. Wilson scored 6 points for the home side and Johannés led the Liberty with 6. The Aces were held to 19 percent (4-21 FGs) of their field goals, including 0 of 9 from 3-point, while the Liberty hit 36.8 percent (7-19 FGs) from the floor and 25 percent (3-12 3FGs) from afar.
Second Quarter Highlights (Las Vegas 34, New York 32)
The Liberty outscored the Aces 11-6 to open the second, and go up by 11, 28-17 at the 7:43 mark. It was still a 32-23 New York advantage with 3:57 on the clock, but Las Vegas ended the half on an 11-0 run to take the lead heading into the locker room. Five different Aces scored in the run. The Liberty had 5 turnovers in the period, 4 of which came in the Aces 11-0 run, while the Aces coughed up the ball just twice. Shooting improved for the Aces, who made 43.8 percent (7-16 FGs) from the field, while the Liberty were held to 26.3 percent (5-19 FGs).
Third Quarter Highlights (New York 56, Las Vegas 48)
The Aces went up 39-32 to open the second half and were still in the lead, 43-41, after Plum drove to the basket at 5:32. The Liberty responded with 7-straight to regain the lead, 48-43, with 2:01 left in the quarter. The Liberty outscored the Aces 10-5 over the remainder of the period. The Liberty owned the glass in the quarter, 14-3, and hit 55.6 percent (5-9 3FGs) from behind the arc. The Aces connected on 40 percent (6-15 FGs) of its field goals, but just 33.3 percent (2-6 3FGs) from distance. Young scored 10 points for the Aces and Kayla Thornton had 8 for New York.
Fourth Quarter Highlights (New York 82, Las Vegas 63)
The Aces never gained traction in the final frame, falling behind by as many as 20 points. The Liberty maintained the lead thanks to 61.5 percent (8-13 FGs) shooting from the field and 80 percent (4-5 3FGs) from 3-point range, while the Aces hit for just 35.3 percent (6-17 FGs) and 16.7 percent (1-6 3FGs). The Liberty held a 10-1 advantage on the glass in the fourth.
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The Liberty outrebounded Las Vegas 49-28, including 24-4 in the second half.
New York outscored the Aces 50-29 in the second half, outshooting them 51.6 percent to 37.5 percent from the field, and 64.3 percent (9-14 FGs) to 25.0 percent (3-12 3FGs) from distance.
The Liberty made 15 of 35 of their 3-pointers on the night (.429) while the Aces made 19.2 percent of theirs (5-26 3FGs).
Las Vegas forced the Liberty into 18 turnovers, which they flipped into 17 points, while the Aces committed 9 miscues which New York turned into 5 points.
The Aces outscored New York 28-18 in the paint.
Courtney Vandersloot handed out a Commissioner’s Cup Championship Game record 10 assists. She added 11 points for the first point-assist double-double in the history of the CCCG.
The Liberty’s 49 rebounds set a Commissioner’s Cup Championship Game record as did their 15 made 3s.
Jonquel Jones recorded her second Commissioner’s Cup Championship Game double-double with 16 points and 15 rebounds. She posted a 10-point, 11-rebound double-double for Connecticut in the 2021 game.
Jonquel Jones (NY in 2023, CT in 2021), Breanna Stewart (NY in 2023, Sea in 2021) and Courtney Vandersloot (NY in 2023, CHI in 2022) became the first three players in WNBA history to play for 2 different teams in the Commissioner’s Cup Championship Game.
The Aces have two games remaining in their home stand spanning from Aug. 11-19, including a rematch against the Liberty in a regular season game on Aug. 17 and the season finale in the series against Los Angeles on Aug. 19.