r1175836 600x400 3 2 - Replay Madness

SEATTLE — Jackie Young and Kelsey Plum both scored 23 points, and the Las Vegas Aces opened defense of their WNBA championship with a 105-64 win over the Seattle Storm on Saturday.

The 41-point margin of victory was the third largest on the road and the largest in a season opener in WNBA history, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

The rematch of last year’s WNBA semifinal series won by the Aces in four games on their way to the title featured several changes and absences from that playoff series.

Most notable, Las Vegas was without head coach Becky Hammon following her two-game suspension by the league earlier this week following an investigation into former Aces player Dearica Hamby saying she had been bullied and manipulated for being pregnant.

Hammon denied that Hamby was bullied for being pregnant, saying any ill feelings between the two came from Hamby being traded.

But the Aces didn’t miss a beat without their head coach on the sideline. Acting head coach Tyler Marsh just had to decide which combinations of the Aces’ star-studded roster to call upon, all under the watchful and approving eye of owner Mark Davis looking on from his baseline seat.

Six Aces players finished in double figures. A’ja Wilson had 13 points and 13 rebounds — her 55th career double-double — Chelsea Gray scored 14 points and Alysha Clark added 10 off the bench.

Then there was two-time MVP Candace Parker. In her debut with the Aces, Parker added 12 points, 5 rebounds and 3 blocks. It was the trade of Hamby to the Los Angeles Sparks that cleared salary cap room for Las Vegas to add Parker and create a roster that makes the Aces, along with New York, the overwhelming favorites to win the league title, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Jewell Loyd led Seattle with 22 points as the Storm began what’s expected to be a rebuild season in the next chapter for the franchise. For the first time since 2002, Sue Bird was no longer part of Seattle’s roster to start the season following her retirement at the end of last season, although she was sitting courtside for Saturday’s game.

Seattle also lost two-time league MVP Breanna Stewart after she departed for New York during free agency, and starting wing Gabby Williams is still in Europe, although the Storm are hopeful the restricted free agent could return with the hope she’ll rejoin the Storm soon.

That leaves Loyd as the only core piece from last season still on the court as a contributor. She struggled badly early, missing her first eight shots, and struggled to get clean looks anytime Plum had the defensive assignment. Loyd finished 7-of-25 shooting.

No other Seattle player scored more than the eight points from rookie Jordan Horston.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Source link

Aces begin WNBA title defense with 41-point win over Storm