LAS VEGAS (AP) — A’ja Wilson had 21 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Las Vegas Aces to an 83-70 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks on Sunday in the season opener for both teams.
The Aces, tabbed as the preseason favorite to win this year’s title, were without last year’s WNBA leading scorer Liz Cambage, who is still healing from Achilles tendinitis she suffered during the offseason.
Las Vegas coach Bill Laimbeer said the plan to sit Cambage had been in place, purely out of cautiousness.
So, instead, the Aces turned to Wilson — last year’s Rookie of the Year — and a supporting cast that saw three others score in double figures.
Kayla McBride and Kelsey Plum added 20 points and 11, respectively, for the Aces and Dearica Hamby came off the bench to score 12 points and grab 14 rebounds. Jackie Young, the top overall pick in the March draft, was 4 for 4 from the field for eight points.
Los Angeles, which was without two-time WNBA MVP Candace Parker, was led by Maria Vadeeva, who had 24 points and five rebounds.
The Aces found its offensive groove midway through the first quarter after the Sparks grabbed the momentum early and opened the game with a 17-12 lead. The Aces responded with a 13-2 run, sparked by a pair of 3-pointers from McBride.
Behind the solid play of Hamby, the Aces were able to carry the momentum into the second quarter, which saw the Aces outscore Los Angeles, 18-8. The Sparks didn’t get their first field goal until the 5:16 mark, as Las Vegas opened the second stanza with a 9-0 run.
Los Angeles’ physical style sent the Aces to the free throw line 15 times in the first half. Las Vegas took full advantage hitting 13 from line, while shooting 4 of 9 from 3-point range. The Aces outrebounded the Sparks in the first half, 24-19, and outscored Los Angeles with second-chance points, 8-0.