Riquna Williams scored 26 points and Kelsey Plum added 25 off the bench as the host Las Vegas Aces defeated the Phoenix Mercury 96-90 in the first game of a WNBA semifinal playoff series Tuesday night.
Chelsea Gray recorded 17 points and 12 assists and A’ja Wilson scored 15 points with nine rebounds for the second-seeded Aces, who shook off the early effects of an eight-day layoff.
All five starters hit double-digit points for the fifth-seeded Mercury. Brittney Griner scored 24, Diana Taurasi 20, Kia Nurse 13, Brianna Turner 12 and Skylar Diggins-Smith 10.
Game 2 of the best-of-five series is Thursday night in Las Vegas.
The Mercury trailed by 10 after three quarters but opened the fourth with a 9-2 run that pulled them within three points.
Gray then assisted on Plum’s 3-pointer and added a basket to give Las Vegas an 83-75 lead.
Phoenix got within four points twice before Wilson scored six straight to give the Aces a 91-81 lead with three minutes left.
Taurasi and Nurse each made a 3-pointer as the Mercury scored the first eight points of the game.
Vegas got within one point twice before Taurasi’s 3-pointer gave Phoenix an 18-12 lead.
Diggins-Smith converted a three-point play and Taurasi hit a 3-pointer to give the Mercury their biggest lead at 30-21 at the end of the period.
The Aces used a 10-0 run to take a 37-36 lead midway through the second quarter.
Turner’s layup ended the Mercury drought before Plum’s 3-pointer started a run that gave Vegas a 46-41 edge.
Phoenix pulled within one point before Gray’s jumper gave the Aces a 52-49 halftime lead.
The Mercury scored the first five points of the third quarter to take a two-point lead.
Liz Cambage and Plum each made a 3-pointer to give the Aces a 64-58 lead midway through the period.
Plum scored 12 points in the final five minutes as Vegas took a 76-66 lead at the end of the period.
–Field Level Media
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