LAS VEGAS (May 26,2019)—A’ja Wilson (21 points) and Kayla Mcbride (20) combined for 41 points Sunday evening, and Dearica Hamby recorded her third career double-double (12 points, 14 rebounds) as the Aces (1-0) topped visiting Los Angeles (0-1), 83-70 in the 2019 season opener for both clubs,
Trailing 17-12 with 4:40 to go in the first quarter, Las Vegas went on a 13-2 run over the next three-plus minutes to go up 25-19. The Aces outscored the Sparks 18-8 in the second quarter, and never trailed.
The Aces made 17 of 22 shots from the free throw line, compared to the Sparks who went 9 for 13.
Las Vegas held Los Angeles to 36.4 percent shooting from the field.
A’ja Wilson scored in double figures for the 34th straight game time to start her WNBA Career. That is the second longest streak to begin a career in WNBA history (Cynthia Cooper).
A’ja Wilson posted the 11th double-double of her career (21 points, 11 rebounds)
Dearica Hamby posted her third career double-double (12 points, 14 rebounds)
Jackie Young made her first four shots from the field as a pro.
The last time the Aces won a season opener was in 2012 when the then San Antonio Silver Stars upended Tulsa 88-79 on the road on May 19.
HEAD COACH BILL LAIMBEER QUOTES
Q. Describe the energy coming off the bench
“We’re one game better than last year, so that’s positive. I told our players at the start of training camp that I wanted our bench to change the complexion of the game, that’s what great teams do and they did that tonight. Our bench pushes the league,wonderful. That’s what happened to night, Dearica was a big part of that and so was Colson. Their numbers don’t look great individually, but overall collectively, phenomenal.
Q. How did you feel about the crowd tonight?
“I knew it was going to be a really nice crowd and it was, I knew our players needed to put on a show to let the people know what we’re about.”
Q. Overall thoughts on the game?
“We’ve got to learn how to win and today’s a good start.”
Q. Based on tonight’s performance, is the team on the road to learning how to win?
“We’ve only won one game, we’re on the road to play Phoenix a tough team. I’ll take the effort. If we put forth the effort offensively and defensively with the intensity that we put out there tonight we’ll be okay then the talent takes over. We didn’t get rattled at any point during the game. I was prepared to call a timeout a couple times but we got a stop and we got a bucket, it’s still a working process and especially integrating Liz into doing what we do, she’s not quite as mobile as we are, but she’s also an unbelievable force on the inside, besides A’ja Wilson we don’t have that. So I think we’re going to have our bumps in the road, but we’re trying to find what we’re doing and where we’re going but I think overall our players, our fans and I think the city now and I think nationally they know- they keep saying in writing that we’re good and we’re gonna be good but we still have to prove it. We haven’t done it yet. “
A’JA WILSON QUOTES
Q: Thoughts on Kobe Bryant speaking to the team in locker room
“He was just giving off positive vibes. Just having his team there, we were just more excited to see the young girls, because they are the future of our game. We were just discussing that this is great, this is why we need the WNBA, this is why we play. To see young girls get so excited to see us. That was definitely a moment. I have never met him until today, so that was a huge moment to have him in the locker room and to see his 8u team is definitely a moment for us.”
Q: Could tonight have gone better?
“A little bit, not being as tired in some cases, but other than that, this was a great way to open up our season. We know that a lot of expectations are up for us, but we knew we had to stick to our game plan and stuck to our system. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
Q: Different feel or energy this season?
“Yeah, we know each other, we get our vibes. We understand each other, we know exactly where to put each other in situations to get the best out of them when we need them. Last year was tough, because we didn’t know one another, but this year, the energy is there, we’re all vibing off each other, we’re all feeding off each other on and off the court. That is something special. I can’t even express enough how happy I am to be a part of something like this.
Q: Feelings of being back on the court?
“Great. I mean, training camps are lovely and practice is great. But when you’re in a game and you’re playing against teams just in our league where you know it’s tough night in and night out, it’s definitely a special feeling being out there. Our fans were just amazing and we fed off of them. It was just a nice thing to be in. I’m glad it’s just a Sunday in Vegas, and everyone coming out.
KAYLA McBRIDE QUOTES
Q: Thought on tonight’s win
“I was really proud about how our team kept fighting and kept playing. Obviously, it’s an experienced LA team and they added some pieces, Vadeeva had a great game, people are going to step-up for them but how are we going to respond to them? I thought Dearica Hamby had a great game, Plum came back in after getting in some foul trouble. We got a lot of energy from different places and that’s what we needed. I thought our bench won the game for us, their momentum and their ability to extend the lead after the starters come out is so important in this league because everybody is so good. I was excited to be back in the house; the energy was crazy. We were excited and I’m just glad we got the win for you guys.”
Q: Thoughts on the feel of this year compare to last season.
“It was a little bit different. Obviously, there is a lot of expectations and a lot more talk. We know we got Cambage, we know we got a lot of pieces, we want to make a great run. I think our moto this year is ‘It is what it is.’ We know what we are, we know who we are, we know what we have and now we just have to do it. Obviously, we have a lot of talent and we’re able to outwork teams in both ends of the floor, that’s what’s going to separate us. I think today was a statement game against an experienced team and I was proud of our effort.”
Q:Thoughts on tonight’s tough defense.
“That’s something we really been emphasizing. If we can control the defense of end, we have enough talent to win games and outscore people. We really want to put our focus on the defensive end, and I thought we did a good job. Obviously, they made some shots, they’re great players but we stuck to our defensive schemes and I thought we did a good job.”
Q: Thoughts on game plan to stop Nneka Ogwumike.
“I think our post have been working on being solid in the lane and it started with Nneka, that was our first test and I thought they did a good job from top to bottom. I think Carolyn Swords is the anchor of our post defense, she always does a great job against Ogwumike. She kind of started this and there was a domino effect with everybody else. Dearica Hamby came in flying around and getting blocks, JiSu, and everybody else. It’s that energy and it’s contagious. I was really proud of our post players; they did a great job protecting the rim.”
Q: Thoughts on Kobe Bryant visiting the Aces locker-room after the game.
“It’s Kobe Bryant, it’s says enough for itself, it’s cool that he appreciates the women’s game. He told me I have a quick shot and a quick trigger; this is the best compliment I ever got. To hear that from the legend himself, Kobe Bryant, is amazing. He has done so much for the game of basketball including myself. It was an honor to meet him, obviously he’s passing his knowledge to the youth and his daughter. It was really cool for him to come and bring his team with his daughter. It was a cool experience and something I’ll remember forever.”
HEAD COACH DEREK FISHER QUOTES
Q: You’re dealing with changes to the system can you touch a bit on what you faced tonight?
“I am not sure how it felt for them to be out there in terms of difference but this is one of the best things that could have happened to us. It forces us to know the right way and far we have to go to reach our maximum potential. Offensively things are different. Things we were expecting defensively were different. I told them I would take some responsibility for us not looking physically ready to be out there which is why some of those layups wouldn’t go, when they bumped us we would go away from the basket instead of going to the basket. I have to find out how much I can push them to still be able to compete fully during the game. Alana Beard didn’t play preseason this was her first game tonight she looked great. In a month we are going to laugh at how bad we were tonight but this is all great information.”
Q: The Aces are favored to win the championship by many and they didn’t have Liz Cambage tonight, can you touch on how dangerous this team can be in the championship race?
“I don’t think there is any question based on how their roster is constructed that they are going to be a very good team. A lot of things will change, a lot will change in five months from now but there is no question that their team is capable of accomplishing a lot.”
Q: What was it like to see Kobe Bryant watching an away game and what do his efforts say about his role in the women’s game?
“I think it’s great. We are all trying to be impactful in this world and I think his efforts are speaking a lot for the women’s game. Also with the youth girls it is great to see. He makes a difference when he shows up somewhere or when he says something. People listen. I think its hard to estimate how impressionable these girls on this team and for the young women looking to become elite athletes. To be able to see what these athletes go through, for a 10 year old girl, that’s impactful.”
NNEKE OGWUMIKE QUOTES
Q: Speaking on Kobe’s impact and efforts in the WNBA…
“It’s great for his daughter and women’s basketball. It’s always great to have support from the guys side whether they are in the game or away from the game. We want Kobe at all our games.”
CHINEY OGWUMIKE QUOTES
Q: Tough game but assess the entire team and your individual performance…
“It is game one and obviously a lot of the core is the same but there is a new coach with a new offense, a new coach, a new defense, a new philosophy so for me personally there is a lot of second guessing. Is someone going to be there? And that takes away from me shooting the basketball. It’s a long journey and we as a group know what we are capable of so we are not worried about it but we are just going to get back home and figure it out but tonight was the first game and we have time to work things out and we still think we are in it to win. But it starts tomorrow.”
Q: On Kobe’s support of the team…
-“People need to follow his lead. Not just players and former players but men in general. There are a lot of men who speak down on the sport who don’t even get a chance. There is a lot of ignorance but a lot of men have daughters and I bet they would want their daughter to play in the WNBA. Follow his lead because he sets a good standard for those to follow. It was my first time in the building with him so it was pretty cool.”
Q: On a short training camp
“Was it short? I think we had a great training camp even with people coming from overseas so I think we just have to take everyday as a learning opportunity and learn as we go. We need to grow as a team every single day and that incremental growth will show the true potential of this team. “