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A’ja Wilson dominates with 30-point performance, Aces beat Mercury 89-80

© Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

LAS VEGAS – A’ja Wilson dropped 30 points for the Las Vegas Aces as they held off the Phoenix Mercury and won 89-80.

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Jackie Young added 23 points and Kelsey Plum went for 19 for the Aces (1-0). Las Vegas shot 29-for-71 (40.8%) from the field and 6-for-29 (20.7%) from three.

Diana Taurasi led the Mercury (0-1) with 23 points, and Kahleah Copper posted 19. Natasha Cloud and Rebecca Allen both scored 14 each in Phoenix’s first game of the season.

Absolute Dogfight

With Brittney Griner out for the Mercury, Wilson was able to drive toward the basket effortlessly most of the night as she scored 17 points from 7-of-10 (70%) shooting in the first quarter alone. Off to a slow start, Phoenix shrunk their deficit to 15-10 before the Aces went on a 14-4 run, concluding the first frame 29-14.

Down by 15, the Mercury looked for a response in the second and Taurasi kicked started a resurgent effort with two early threes. Taurasi shot for 4-for-7 (57.1%) and 4-for-6 (66.7%) from three to total 12 points in the first half.

“Coach [Nate Tibbets] has a direction for me, shoot threes and drive into the paint,” Taurasi said postgame.

From trailing far behind to outscoring the Aces 27-13, Allen notched 10 points in the quarter as Phoenix fought back before halftime, 42-41.

“I am super proud that it could have been really easy in the first quarter to say that we were a little overwhelmed just with the atmosphere and how fast they were playing,” Tibbetts said on his team not quitting. “I was super proud of how we stuck together and we kept flying around and competing. We had a chance to get a stop, that’s all you can ask for on the road against a team that’s been together and we are a new group. We need these challenges early to help us down the road.”

Trying to halt the Mercury’s momentum, Young netted a quick seven points in the first 2:40 of the third and the Aces narrowly grabbed the control until the final horn.

Phoenix was held to just four points through most of the fourth quarter until there was 4:09 left when Taurasi made a three. The Mercury went 29-for-76 (38.2%) from the field and 15-for-36 (41.7%) from behind the arc.

“DT [Taurasi] had a big night with seven threes, so a really good start from her,” Tibbetts said. “We were unselfish and sharing it [the ball] with 21 assists, we need that kind of effort as far as looking for each other.”

Next Games

Mercury: Home vs. Atlanta Dream (0-0) | May 18 | 7 p.m. PT

Aces: Home vs. Los Angeles Sparks (0-0) | May 18 | 12 p.m. PT

Mercury suffer major blow, Brittney Griner out indefinitely with toe fracture

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Alec Cipollini covers Phoenix Sports News for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on his X account, @AlecCipollini

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