After a win over the New York Liberty on Thursday, the Las Vegas Aces will travel to the nation’s capital to challenge the Washington Mystics on Saturday.
Averaging only 78.3 points per game, the Mystics offense will face its toughest test to date against an Aces team (6-3) that is tied for first in the WNBA in defensive rebounds (29.6) and second in blocks (6.3) per game. The length of the Aces will challenge Mystics star Tina Charles, whose 26.7 points per game rank first in the WNBA.
Charles, who is expected to match up with the 6-foot-8 Liz Cambage, isn’t intimidated by the Las Vegas center or the size of the Aces, who can put 6-4 A’ja Wilson, 6-3 Dearica Hambty and 6-5 Ji-Su Park on the floor.
“They’re long. They’re big,” the 6-4 Charles said Thursday.
“I have to guard her (Cambage). She has to guard me. So, I’m not really concerned about Liz that much.”
However, Mystics head coach Mike Thibault acknowledges the challenge.
“When you have Cambage, A’ja Wilson, Dearica Hamby, and JiSu Park, that’s a lot of length to deal with,” Thibault said. “They get to the free-throw line. You can’t foul them and bail them out. It’s hard enough physically to play against them. You can’t give them extra chances at the free throw line.”
The Mystics (2-4) will try to avoid fouling Wilson, who shot a perfect 12-for-12 from the foul line in a 30-point, 13-rebound performance in Thursday’s 94-82 win over the Liberty. She added five assists and three blocks.
Wilson was the go-to player for the Aces after they saw a 19-point second-quarter lead turn into a one-point margin, 80-79, with four minutes to play.
“I knew I had to do something for my team,” said Wilson, the reigning league MVP. “My only thought was to get a bucket.”
Wilson hit a jump shot and added two free throws to give the Aces an 84-80 lead. Las Vegas ended the game with a 14-3 spurt.
“I’m going to make sure that I can be a bucket for my team if they need me. Be the screamer and yeller if they need me on the court. Anything to get us going, I feel like it starts with me,” Wilson said.
The win didn’t fully satisfy Aces coach Bill Laimbeer, who questioned his team’s shot selection after the game and told his players to get the ball to Wilson in the waning minutes Thursday.
“We have to play smarter,” Laimbeer said. “We take shots out of character. I don’t know if it’s any part of ‘me, me, me’ creeping in. Or whatever. But that really can’t continue.”
–Field Level Media
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