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Aces vs Mercury

Sam Morris/Las Vegas News Bureau

Las Vegas Aces head coach Bill Laimbeer questions an official’s call during their WNBA game against the Phoenix Mercury Wednesday, August 1, 2018, at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

The Las Vegas Aces got beaten up by one of the WNBA’s best teams on Thursday night, as Washington came into the Mandalay Bay Events Center and hammered the home team from the opening tip.

And yet the Aces hung around, and when Kayla McBride passed ahead to A’ja Wilson for a breakaway layup late in the third quarter, Las Vegas cut the Mystics’ lead to 56-50. Despite 25 minutes of poor play, the Aces were close enough to potentially steal a win.

That was, until Washington outscored the Aces 23-11 in the final frame to claim a decisive 95-72 victory.

Las Vegas fell back to .500 with the loss (4-4), and the 23-point margin represented the team’s worst beating of the year.

“What we saw tonight was an experienced team that kicked the crap out of an inexperienced basketball team,” head coach Bill Laimbeer said. “They came into our building and just beat us up, left to right. They played very well and we didn’t.”

The Aces came into the game sporting the WNBA’s best defensive rating, allowing 89.4 points per 100 possessions, but Washington had little trouble carving it up to the tune of 52.9 percent from the field. Star center Elena Delle Donne led the way for the Mystics with 29 points on 11-of-18 shooting.

The 95 points scored by the Mystics represented a season high in points allowed for Las Vegas.

The Aces got 28 points from Wilson on 11-of-14 shooting, but the team just couldn’t get stops when it mattered. After Vegas made its run toward the end of the third quarter, Washington shot 10-of-17 in the fourth to pull away. Delle Donne went 4-of-5 in the period and scored nine points.

Laimbeer was not pleased with the way his team responded with the game on the line.

“The most disappointing thing was the fourth quarter. We just stopped playing. I thought it was embarrassing for our unit that was out there down the stretch. They just didn’t concentrate. Threw the ball away. That can’t happen, and I told them so.”

Wilson, who went scoreless in five fourth-quarter minutes, felt the Aces didn’t show enough fight as the game slipped away.

“We really have to lift each other up,” Wilson said. “If we see that going on and it’s spiraling out of control, we really need to lock in together and know that we can get back in this game. It’s something that we’ve struggled with. All of our losses, you can look at them, they’re very close because we just need that little extra ‘ungh’ to really keep us going.”

Washington improved to 6-3 on the season. In addition to Delle Donne’s big night, the Mystics also got 19 points from forward Ariel Atkins and 15 from reserve Tianna Hawkins.

The Aces will have to bounce back quickly, as they’ve got another home game Saturday against the Dallas Wings.

After all the preseason hype the Aces received, Laimbeer wants his team to rise to the occasion on a more consistent basis going forward.

“We don’t know what a big game is,” he said. “A lot of players never showed tonight. Washington wanted that game a lot more than we did. Hopefully we learn from that one.”

Mike Grimala can be reached at 702-948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Mike on Twitter at

Article written by #LasVegasSun