MVP candidates both excel as Aces beat Storm
Saturday gave us the most anticipated contest of the season thus far: Two legitimate MVP frontrunners went head to head, as Breanna Stewart and A’ja Wilson faced up in a game between the WNBA’s two best teams. The Las Vegas Aces thoroughly – apart from a few minutes down the stretch – dominated and outright outplayed the Seattle Storm.
Seattle got off to a better start, well, Stewart did. The forward scored her team’s first 7 points, as especially Natasha Howard was having a rough shooting night, starting 1/5 from the floor. She’d pick it up over the course of the game, though, keeping up the improved form she’d shown before. She scored 16 points (7/15 FG) and grabbed 9 boards as well, just short of her 4th double-double of the season. Angel McCoughtry answered with 7 points of her own to give the Aces a 5-point lead. Las Vegas worked its way into the game, playing tough defense and efficient offense, while Seattle struggled from behind the arc. The Aces forced 8 first half turnovers as well, which helped them to build a big lead in the second quarter. The Storm’s 29 points were the lowest in a half this season. On top of that, they hadn’t trailed by double digits since their loss to the Mystics in late July.
The Aces didn’t take the foot off the gas in the second half, either. Wilson was the focal point of their offense and navigated Seattle’s double teams perfectly. She found ways to score or to get her team mates involved and played a massive part in her team’s success. The other key contributor was Danielle Robinson, who came off the bench as an energizer. The veteran guard played 30 minutes and scored 16 points, along with 4 rebounds and 7 assists. McCoughtry was outstanding as well, putting up a big double-double of 13 points and 14 boards with 3 assists and 3 steals. Las Vegas’ bench outscored Seattle’s 34–5, picking up the slack for some of their starters. Kayla McBride struggled with her shot (3/10 FG) after going 9/10 in her last outing, but she’d eventually make the game-sealing shot, when she hit a leaner to fend off the Storm’s late push in the fourth. Seattle had gone on a 12–0 run before to cut the deficit from 20+ points to 7. In the end, the Aces got a well-deserved win in a game, in which two outstanding players gave two outstanding performances. Wilson finished the game with 23 and 14, while Stewart had 29 and 18 (career-high in rebounds). The MVP race will go down to the wire, but until it’s decided, we should all appreciate the greatness that’s unfolding before our eyes.