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Kelsey Plum, Liz Cambage shine as Aces hold off Connecticut Sun

Aces guard Kelsey Plum summarized her mentality Sunday with two poignant words, and one poignant message.

“Shooters shoot,” she said.

Yes, they do.

Plum didn’t score Friday in an 87-84 loss to the Chicago Sky, but bounced back with 16 crucial points — including nine in the first quarter — in an 89-81 victory over the Connecticut Sun before an announced crowd of 4,633 at Mandalay Bay Events Center.

The Aces (16-9) remained in fourth place in the overall WNBA standings, but pulled within a half-game of the Sun (16-8), who hold the second seed and its corresponding double-bye in the playoffs.

“I know my capabilities. Can’t let anything rattle your confidence in this league,” Plum said. “Definitely a good win. We kind of let the last one get away from us. It feels good. We need this win. … Obviously, they’re atop the league and we want to chase for playoff position and stuff like that. It was a great team win.”

Precisely.

All five starters scored in double figures for the Aces, who squandered a fourth-quarter lead Friday against the Sky. But Plum set the tone Sunday by looking for her own shot off of ball screens, and Kayla McBride and Liz Cambage were active early in helping the Aces establish a 43-42 halftime lead.

They opened the second half with an 11-5 spurt and tacked on an 11-4 run later in the third quarter, driven by ball movement and a defense that held Connecticut to 6-of-18 shooting in the period.

“Lot of good efforts from a lot of people. I’m playing people a lot of minutes, which I don’t necessarily want to do but I have to do in order to get some wins,” Las Vegas coach Bill Laimbeer said. “We have to learn to move and cut with (Cambage) out there. … We’re still young with our whole group and with (Cambage).”

The Aces carried a 69-59 lead into the fourth quarter and led by 12 with 3:45 to play, but that aforementioned youth resurfaced in the form of four consecutive turnovers that allowed the Sun to pull within two possessions. Cambage had a crucial three-point play, though, with 1:21 left, and Jackie Young and Plum made key free throws in the final minute.

Cambage finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks, and Kayla McBride made four 3-pointers and scored 18.

Rookie guard Jackie Young added 13 points and six assists.

“We proved something to ourselves by coming in here and beating Connecticut on our home floor,” McBride said. “When you have momentum games like this, it carries. … It’s just 1 percent (better) everyday. I think, obviously there’s a lot of expectations and whatever. But internally, we know what we are and we’re just continuing to build on that.”

More Aces: Follow at reviewjournal.com/aces and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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