LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The Aces rallied in the second half to win Game 1 of the WNBA Finals, beating the Connecticut Sun 67-64 on Sunday before an announced sellout crowd of 10,135 at Michelob Ultra Arena.
The Aces trailed 38-34 at intermission after getting out to an eight-point lead in the opening quarter.
Then the Aces fought off a late run as the Sun erased a seven-point deficit with 1:24 left. Alyssa Thomas hit back-to-back shots to pull Connecticut within three.
But DeWanna Bonner’s desperation 3-pointer fell short as time expired.
A’ja Wilson led the Aces with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Chelsea Gray added 21 points and three assists
Thomas led the Sun with 19 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
The victory marked the first in Finals history for the Aces franchise. They were swept in two previous Finals appearances, in 2008 when the team was in San Antonio and in 2020 by Seattle.
“Coming from being swept and actually getting one. Pretty happy about this one,” said Wilson, a member of that 2020 team. “Not going to dwell on it long as we have a really tough Game 2 coming up.”
The key stretch for the Aces was at the end of the third quarter, when they ran off a 13-3 scoring spurt to take control.
Dearica Hamby came off the bench to help spark the burst. Hamby had two offensive rebounds, a putback basket, two assists and a steal in the third quarter as the Aces turned a six-point deficit into a two-point lead entering the final quarter.
“She was phenomenal, she was ready to go,” Aces coach Becky Hammon said of Hamby’s effort. “I just got to the point where I was like, my biggest, baddest beast is sitting over there. I’ve just got to throw her in. They want to play a rough game – she’s my girl.”
Hamby injured a knee in the regular season and didn’t play in the first round. She came back to play the final two games of the second round of the playoffs, when the Aces beat Seattle in four games.
The idea of being swept was something of a motivational factor, Wilson said.
“It sucks getting swept, it’s the worst thing ever,” she said, referring to the 2020 Finals. “That’s the chip on your shoulder, that’s the fire, that’s the grind that you want to say, ‘I don’t wanna get swept anymore. I don’t wanna even have gentleman’s sweep.’
“You wanna go out there and play for your teammates because you felt the way that you felt in 2020 – and you hate it.”
Game 2 of the Finals is Tuesday at Michelob Ultra Arena.