Updated August 5, 2020 - 8:40 pm
Aces coach Bill Laimbeer said A’ja Wilson was tired and plodding throughout Wednesday’s game against the Washington Mystics.
Even if she didn’t have her normal spring, it was hard to tell by her performance. Wilson had 20 points and eight rebounds, and the Aces crept over .500 for the first time this season with an 83-77 win over the defending WNBA champions at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
“Bill always says I’m tired,” Wilson said. “At this point, OK, I’m tired, but I know what I have to do for my team. I can’t really get lost in myself. I have to continue to push and get my team up and going.”
Emma Meesseman had 24 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Mystics, who have lost two straight after a 3-0 start.
Here’s three takeaways from the win:
1. Robinson’s night to shine
After Wilson, the Aces (3-2) have had different players step up each game.
It was Danielle Robinson’s turn against the Mystics. She scored 20 points on 7-for-12 shooting and was 6-for-7 from the free-throw line, with three assists and two steals.
“That’s what makes it fun because we don’t know and the other team for sure doesn’t know (whose night it is),” Robinson said. “Everybody is getting comfortable with their roles. We’re still figuring each other out. We’re only five games in, but we’re going to compete, play hard and look for each other.”
The Aces outscored the Mystics 34-9 off the bench, with Dearica Hamby adding 12 points and 13 rebounds.
2. Free throws big for Aces
With the way the Aces like to play inside-out, Laimbeer has made it clear they need to make their free throws because they should get plenty of opportunities.
They did Wednesday, going 23-for-30 from the free-throw line. Washington was 7-for-11.
“We’re an attacking basketball club,” Laimbeer said. “We have players like Angel (McCoughtry) and A’ja and our guards who attack the basket. But that’s our M.O.: rebounding and getting to the free-throw line.”
3. Stopping Ariel and Aerial
Washington’s Ariel Atkins (18.8 points per game) and Aerial Powers (18.0) led the Mystics in scoring entering the game, but both had rough nights.
Atkins was 3-for-8 from the floor for nine points, and Powers scored six on 2-for-9 shooting.
“That was one of our game plans. Meesseman is a quality basketball player, and she got hers,” Laimbeer said. “But if she’s getting hers, then that means their 3 ballers and guards are not getting theirs. Our bigs helped out stopping the guards, which opened up Meesseman and a little (Myisha) Hines-Allen inside, and that’s OK.”
Hines-Allen had 18 points and 10 rebounds.
The Aces will meet the Los Angeles Sparks at 6 p.m. Friday.