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Aces ‘lazy’ down the stretch in 80-74 loss to Connecticut

Updated June 2, 2019 - 7:32 pm

Aces coach Bill Laimbeer summarized with one word his team’s play Sunday after an 80-74 loss to the Connecticut Sun at Mandalay Bay Events Center.

Lazy.

“You … never want to hear your coach say it,” Aces forward A’ja Wilson said.

She didn’t disagree.

The Aces built a 10-point lead in the first half Sunday, but committed 14 turnovers in the second half and surrendered a 7-0 run late in the fourth quarter en route to their second consecutive loss.

Wilson rebounded from perhaps the worst game of her career by posting 19 points on 9 of 11 shooting and nine rebounds. But fellow starters Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young didn’t score in 33 combined minutes.

Laimbeer said that he is considering a change to the starting lineup after Sunday’s lackadaisical effort before an announced crowd of 2.747. Plum and Young sat for most of the second half, ceding playing time to Sydney Colson and Tamera Young, who again helped lead a productive second unit.

Starting center Carolyn Swords scored two points in 10 minutes, and shooting guard Kayla McBride shot a season-low 36 percent from the field and played to a minus-21 in 27 minutes.

“We were not mentally strong at all. It’s an acquired trait. … We don’t have it right now. It’s not disturbing, it’s just a fact,” said Laimbeer, who praised the efforts of his reserves. “Our starters have no energy. I have to make a change. They just don’t have it. They go out there and they just go through the motions.”

Wilson shot 4 of 19 on Friday in a loss to Phoenix, but made her first six shots Sunday to help the Aces (1-2) build a 34-24 lead midway through the second quarter. But Connecticut (3-1) promptly embarked on a 14-2 run to prevent Las Vegas from pulling away.

The Aces turned over the ball nine times in the third quarter and five times in the fourth quarter, accounting for 21 total giveaways — and 32 points for the Sun.

Jonquel Jones made four straight free throws for Connecticut down the stretch and Jasmine Thomas buried a key corner 3-pointer to give the Sun a six-point lead with 1:34 to play.

“Lazy passes, the lazy things that we’ve done that we normally didn’t do in the past, it kind of showed today,” Wilson said. “We’ve all been in this situation, we just have to lift each other up.”

For the third consecutive game, five Aces reserves played to positive plus-minuses. Liz Cambage came off the bench in her home debut to log 14 points and seven rebounds, flashing dominance on both ends of the floor in 14 minutes. McBride scored 13 and forward Dearica Hamby added 10 points on 4 of 6 shooting.

Laimbeer reiterated after the game that the Aces do not yet know how to win on a consistent basis, despite their talented starting lineup and strong bench.

“It’s just the wave,” Cambage said. “We’ve just got to find our groove … It will come.”

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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