By Kayte Ledbetter
The Dallas Wings (0-1) fell, 97-83, to the Las Vegas Aces (1-0) on Sunday afternoon.
Las Vegas’ Jackie Young and A’ja Wilson were rolling out the gate, both shooting 2-2 and combining for 12 of their first 14 points. Odyssey Sims entered the game and almost immediately recorded a steal before taking it down the court to score for the Wings and bring the Wings within four points. Sims proved to be the offensive spark Dallas needed, recording Dallas’ next field goal to set them up to take the lead just one minute later following baskets from Teaira McCowan and Natasha Howard.
Their run of baskets included seven unanswered points that gave them a 17-16 advantage. The Aces pushed back with two consecutive baskets of their own, but Satou Sabally ensured Las Vegas wouldn’t hold more than a single point lead going into the second quarter by sinking her first basket of the afternoon with just five seconds on the clock.
Each team was tied at 11 rebounds apiece after the first quarter, though Dallas recorded six offensive rebounds versus Las Vegas’ two. Each team made eight field goals and two free throws in the opening quarter, with Las Vegas’ advantage coming from two made threes versus Dallas’ one. A’ja Wilson had dipped into double figures after the first with 10 points on 4-6 shooting.
Arike Ogunbowale found herself on the board in the second quarter with two consecutive baskets for Dallas that included a three that worked to tie things at seven points each through the first two minutes of the quarter.
Wilson, extended the Vegas lead before Kelsey Plum came out of the timeout and hit a three to extend the lead to nine points. The Dallas baskets were falling for what felt like the first time as they scored on four straight possessions. To the Wings’ disadvantage, Las Vegas was just as hot during the span, allowing them to maintain their nine-point lead.
Kelsey Plum led scoring for the Aces in the second quarter with 12 points, while Wilson recorded eight points on 4-4 shooting. Kalani Brown, Sabally and Ogunbowale each provided six points for the Wings, while Howard and Crystal Dangerfield recorded four apiece.
Dallas fell behind coming out of the half, recording just two points to Vegas’ eight. Las Vegas’ massive third quarter effort that saw them record 26 points versus Dallas’ 12. Their offensive burst earned them an 18-point lead going into the final quarter. Wilson had 14 points in the third quarter and Plum had six, while no other Aces player recorded more than two points.
Sabally began the fourth quarter with a three, sinking the basket within the first ten seconds. Maddy Siegrist recorded a steal in Vegas’ first possession and found herself at the line where she made two free throws for Dallas. Sims recorded a layup in Dallas’ next possession to allow the Wings to score in their first three possessions to open the quarter. Their early 7-0 run cut the Vegas lead to 11, but as Vegas found their offensive footing once again, especially from three, the lead was drastically extended once again.
Despite the Las Vegas surge, the fourth quarter was Dallas’ best of the afternoon as they outscored the Aces for the first time during the contest. The fourth quarter featured scoring from throughout the Dallas lineup. Each starter registered a field goal, while Maddy Siegrist led Dallas’ fourth quarter scoring with seven points off the bench. Young led offensive efforts for Vegas in the fourth with nine points on 3-3 shooing from three.
The Kia 2023 WNBA Defensive Player of the Year, A’ja Wilson, relied on blocks to fuel her defense, finishing with four. Jackie Young and Kelsey Plum combined for 10 three pointers that included 5-6 shooting from Young. The Aces are the first team in WNBA Playoff history to have multiple players make five or more threes. Wilson finished with 34 points on 71.4% (15-21) shooting, followed by Plum who totaled 25 points.
Satou Sabally was the leading scorer for Dallas with 16 points, followed by Arike Ogunbowale who totaled 12 points. Natasha Howard recorded 11 points, while Crystal Dangerfield, Odyssey Sims and Kalani Brown wrapped up double digit scoring with 10 points each. Sabally recorded seven assists and seven rebounds, while Arike Ogunbowale totaled six assists alongside three rebounds.
The Dallas bench was more efficient than Vegas’ totaling 27 points, while the Aces bench only recorded four points. Maddy Siegrist and Odyssey Sims finished with a +/- of four off the bench. The Aces are just the third team in WNBA Playoff history to score 95+ points with fewer than five from their bench.
The teams will face off once again for the second game of the 2023 WNBA Semifinals on Tuesday, September 26 at 7 p.m. ET at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas with live coverage on ESPN.