In an emotional post-game comment, Liberty coach Walt Hopkins said, “Somebody made a really big mistake and stole the game from us.”
With Amanda Zuhai B doing everything she could to push the Libs, Joe Tsai’s team and the Aces were tied at 76-all with 6.9 seconds left. Everyone in the “wubble” knew what would happen next. Aces star A’ja Wilson, the WNBA’s leading scorer, would get the ball and she did. The 6’4” Wilson received the ball at the foul line, made a quick move to her right before banking in a jump shot from about eight feet away.
That shot gave Wilson a season-high 31 points but the Liberty had plenty of time to tie and take the game into OT but an issue with the clock foiled their chances.
As Sarah Valenzuela, who covers the Liberty for the Daily News, described the scene...
On the ensuing possession, Liberty guard Kia Nurse received the ball in the corner and missed a jumper from just inside the three-point line. The Liberty managed to grab the rebound with 2.1 seconds left on the clock, but following a chaotic series of events, the game slipped out of the Liberty’s hands.
The Aces argued that the Liberty stepped out of bounds after grabbing the rebound. Following an official’s review, Las Vegas received possession of the ball. But with 0.5 seconds left on the clock, the Aces stepped out of bounds, giving possession right back to the Liberty.
Layshia Clarendon inbounded the ball to rookie Leona Odom, who worked a perfectly drawn-up play in the paint to tie the game. But as fate would have it, the clock started too early and the buzzer went off before Odom even got the ball in her hands.
On their second attempt to tie the game, the Liberty tried to run the same play, but the Aces already knew what was coming and Clarendon’s pass was intercepted.
Game Over, and the Liberty, without their injured star, Sabrina Ionescu, dropped to 1-6, tied with the Connecticut Sun for the worst record in the league.
“We executed that play — the one that the score keeper started the clock before the ball was touched... we should be fighting in overtime right now,” Hopkins said in describing the play. “I don’t know if it was the scoreboard malfunction or if it was actually the scorekeeper who started early, because it’s all automated. So, somebody made a really big mistake and stole the game from us.”
Hopkins and Zuhai B. tried to put the best light on things post-game...
Wilson’s game winner was only the second lead for Las Vegas the entire game. Jackie Young’s layup with 7:29 before halftime put Las Vegas up 30-28. Kiah Stokes’ layup with 3:34 left in the third quarter put New York up 56-46 before Las Vegas (5-2) went on a 12-5 run to close the quarter.
Wilson shot 10-of-17 from the floor and made 11-of-12 free throws. Young scored 15 and Dearica Hamby 13.
Zahui B. led the Liberty (1-6) with 20 points and nine rebounds, hit 6-of-9 three’s but was held scoreless from the 6:48 mark of the third quarter., Clarendon scored 15 and Joyner Holmes 11.
The Liberty play again Tuesday vs. the Los Angeles Sparks.
- Game Report: Las Vegas Aces 78, New York Liberty 76 - WNBA.com
- Wilson’s basket sends the Aces past Liberty 78-76 - AP
- Liberty nearly force overtime against Aces, but clock malfunction robs them of tying bucket - Sarah Valenzuela - New York Daily News
- 3 takeaways from Aces’ win over New York Liberty - Jason Orts - Las Vegas Review-Journal