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Aces hold off Sabrina Ionescu-fueled rally to beat Liberty

May 9, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; A general view of the game ball during the preseason WNBA game between the New York Liberty and the China National Team at Barclays Center.  Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

A’ja Wilson had 23 points and 14 rebounds and Kelsey Plum scored 27 points Tuesday night for the visiting Las Vegas Aces, who raced out to a 24-point lead before holding off a furious comeback by the New York Liberty to earn a 107-101 win.

Jackie Young also had 23 points and Chelsea Gray added 14 points as the Aces (16-7) snapped a two-game losing streak.

Sabrina Ionescu scored 27 points — including 12 in the final minute of the game — as the Liberty (9-14) dropped their second in a row. Natasha Howard (20 points, 11 rebounds) had a double-double while Sami Whitcomb scored 17 points off the bench. The Liberty made 15 of 31 shots from the arc.

The Aces never trailed and opened their biggest lead when Plum scored the final four points of the first half to cap a 6-0 run and put Las Vegas up 52-28 at halftime.

Plum’s 3-pointer with 5:03 left in the third gave the Aces a 65-42 lead before Whitcomb sparked a 21-6 run for the Liberty that allowed the hosts to cut the gap to 71-63 at the end of the period. Whitcomb hit five 3-pointers to contribute 15 points in the surge, including treys on four consecutive trips in a span of 1:47 late in the quarter.

Rebecca Allen’s 3-pointer 1:08 into the fourth pulled the Liberty within seven, but Kiah Stokes answered with a 3-pointer for the Aces and Gray hit two free throws 59 seconds later. Las Vegas maintained a double-digit lead until New York went on a 25-13 run to pull within 101-98 on Ionescu’s old-fashioned three-point play with 18.1 seconds left

But Young followed by hitting two free throws for the Aces, who drained each of their last 10 attempts from the line in the final 33.7 seconds. Allen then air-balled a 3-pointer for the Liberty and Young sandwiched four more free throws around an Ionescu 3-pointer.

The Aces moved within a half-game of the WNBA-leading Chicago Sky, who played later Wednesday. New York entered the second half of the season in a fight with the Atlanta Dream, Los Angeles Sparks and Dallas Wings for the final three playoff spots.

–Field Level Media