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3 takeaways: Aces star hits another career high in win over Storm

Updated July 10, 2024 - 6:38 pm

A’ja Wilson snagged a crucial defensive rebound with 2.1 seconds remaining.

She had dominated the boards for the Aces all game. But her final rebound sealed the 84-79 win against the Seattle Storm on Wednesday at Climate Pledge Arena. It was a much-needed stop after the home team threatened to steal the victory by coming within three points of the Aces in the final minute.

Nneka Ogwumike could’ve tied it for the Storm in their last possession, but she missed an open 3-pointer. Jewell Loyd had another shot that was no good, which allowed Wilson to cement the Aces’ victory with a rebound and two free throws.

Wilson’s final statline showed another historic outing: 24 points, a career-high 20 rebounds, four blocks and three steals for the first 20-20 game of her career.

It was the 21st 20-20 game in WNBA history. Aces general manager Natalie Williams had the league’s and the Aces organization’s first 20-20 game in June 2002 for the Utah Starzz.

Jackie Young led the Aces (14-7) with 27 points. Point guard Chelsea Gray had 11 points and six assists, and Kelsey Plum contributed 13 points.

Loyd scored 28 points for the Storm (14-8).

The win pushed the Aces ahead of the Storm into fourth place in the WNBA standings.

Here are three takeaways from the win:

1. Wilson’s dominance

It was only right that Wilson recorded video game-esque numbers on the day it was announced that she’d grace the cover of NBA 2K25.

Wilson became the second WNBA player, along with Sylvia Fowles, to ever have 20 points, 20 rebounds, three steals and three blocks in a game.

“My shot wasn’t falling in the beginning, so I had to find other ways to be productive,” Wilson said. “I got on the boards a lot, trying to get easy touches and more possessions for my team. Once the shots started going in, it just flowed from there.”

2. Defensive first half

Wilson was limited to two points in the first quarter after going 1-for-7 from the field, but she wasn’t the only player to struggle early.

The Aces scored only 30 points in the first half, the team’s second-lowest scoring half this season, beaten only by a 28-point first half against the Storm on June 7.

“As the game goes on, the floor is gonna open up a little bit more. You’re gonna get some easier looks,” Young said. “I knew, as the game went on that I was going to start making them, shots were gonna start falling.”

The Aces shot 27.3 percent from the field and 12.5 percent from the 3-point line in the first quarter. They improved in the second half, going 40 percent from deep in the fourth quarter. They did their best shooting overall in the third quarter, shooting 62.5 percent from the field.

Aces coach Becky Hammon said she just told the team to keep shooting, but she was most proud of the defense.

“To come in here and shoot the way we did — which was pretty poor for me, especially from 3 — and to grind out a win, we’re more happy with our defense,” Hammon said. “I mean, we could talk about offense, but our offense wasn’t great today. It was the defensive end that won the game.”

3. Turning point

Wilson had to go to the locker room midway through the third quarter after an inadvertent elbow from Ogwumike left her nose gushing blood. When she left the court, the Aces were down 43-40.

“I’ve never seen that much blood come out of my nose,” she said.

By the end of the third quarter, the Aces had outscored the Storm 30-19 for a 60-55 lead. Wilson and Hammon didn’t deny that the Aces rallied from that moment.

“It’s crazy, because the mood shifted after they saw A’ja’s blood on the floor,” Hammon said.

Wilson appreciated the support.

“If anybody’s gonna have my back, my teammates are going to always have my back. So I already knew what time it was,” Wilson said. “If I gotta get knocked upside the head every game for my teammates to do that, I would do that every single game. I greatly appreciate them for doing that, and I hope I can do the same for them.”

The Aces continue their road trip at the Atlanta Dream at 4:30 p.m. Friday.

Contact Callie Lawson-Freeman at clawsonfreeman@reviewjournal.com. Follow @CallieJLaw on X.

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