Updated May 24, 2023 - 6:00 am
The Aces’ march to their first championship — and the first major league title in Las Vegas history — was filled with entertaining games.
Here’s the Review-Journal’s list of the five best games from the 2022 championship season.
5. Becky Hammon’s debut
Arguably the team’s biggest offseason addition ahead of the 2022 season, Coach Becky Hammon was already a franchise legend before becoming the team’s coach.
Her official debut came May 6 against the Phoenix Mercury, and Hammon’s scheme looked effective immediately. The Aces started eventual MVP A’ja Wilson at center and promoted Kelsey Plum back into the starting lineup to devastating effect, beating the Mercury 106-88 at the Footprint Center in Phoenix.
Plum, Jackie Young and Dearica Hamby all scored 20 points or more, while Wilson had a 15-point, 11-rebound double-double.
4. Liz Cambage’s return
The Aces lost Australian center Liz Cambage to the Los Angeles Sparks in free agency ahead of the 2022 season.
Her return to Las Vegas May 23 coincided with one of the Aces’ most complete performances. A 39-point first quarter became a 104-76 blowout. Led by Wilson, who scored 24 points in just 19 minutes, the Aces held Cambage to just 10 points and four rebounds.
Cambage’s time in Los Angeles didn’t last much longer. She departed the Sparks about two months later.
3. OT loss to Washington
While the Aces’ championship proved they were the best team in the league, they were never able to beat the Washington Mystics. Their closest attempt came June 25 at home.
The Aces were coming off a loss to Candace Parker and the Chicago Sky when they welcomed Elena Delle Donne and the Mystics to Michelob Ultra Arena. Jackie Young gave fans a preview of her clutch scoring by hitting a game-tying 3 with 7.7 seconds remaining in regulation, but the Mystics, led by 20 points from Alysha Clark, pulled ahead in overtime.
Wilson’s logo 3 as time expired wasn’t enough, as the Aces fell 87-86.
2. WNBA Finals Game 1
The Aces took an early lead in the first game of the WNBA finals, but a 9-point second quarter allowed the Connecticut Sun to get back into contention.
Hammon’s squad regained their lead late in the fourth quarter and led by eight points with less than three minutes remaining. However, sloppy turnovers and good Sun defense cut the deficit to three points with 15 seconds remaining and Connecticut in possession of the ball.
However, Hamby and center Kiah Stokes made good contests on Sun wing DeWanna Bonner’s game-tying 3, which bounced off the front of the rim, and gave the Aces a 67-64 win and a 1-0 lead in the Finals.
1. WNBA semifinals Game 3
Game 3 of the WNBA semifinals was one of the most memorable games in the league’s recent history.
Big moments came in quick succession as theteams battled down the stretch, and Sue Bird’s 3 with 0.8 seconds gave Seattle a two-point lead should have ended the game. Instead, Young slipped free for a buzzer-beating layup, and the Aces poured on the scoring in overtime.
Wilson scored 34 and Gray added 29 points and 12 assists to counter the balanced scoring of Bird, Breanna Stewart, Jewell Loyd and Tina Charles as the Aces escaped with a 110-98 win in overtime.
Honorable mentions: Commissioner’s Cup Championship Game vs. Chicago July 26, 97-90 loss to the Connecticut Sun June 2, 82-80 loss to the Dallas Wings Aug. 4.