Chelsea Gray scored 20 points to lead the Las Vegas Aces to their first WNBA title in a 78-71 road win over the Connecticut Sun in Game 4 on Sunday.
Gray went 9 of 13 from the floor and was named MVP after averaging 18 points on the run. The Aces improved to 4-0 in this year’s playoffs with two days off. Riquna Williams added 17 points Kelsey Plum added 16 points for the Aces, Jackie Young had 13 and league MVP A’ja Wilson added 11 points to go with 14 rebounds.
Vegas finished on an 8-0 run. When the buzzer sounded, Wilson grabbed the ball and stomped on the ground before being mobbed by his teammates.
“We champions! We champions! We champions! Wilson gave a shout out to his teammates as they donned their championship hats and t-shirts ahead of the trophy presentation ceremony.
It’s the first major professional sports title for a Las Vegas team, and Wilson surely hopes it’s just the beginning.
“You see it. You see it,” Wilson said during the on-pitch celebration. “
Courtney Williams had 17 points to lead Connecticut and Alyssa Thomas had her second straight triple-double with 11 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. Jonquel Jones added 13 points and DeWanna Bonner 12.
For Aces coach Becky Hammon, who went untitled during her career as an outstanding player in the WNBA, the ring has completed a decades-long quest. She left an assistant coaching job with Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs to take over in Las Vegas, and the move paid off.
“They’re amazing on the pitch, but first and foremost they’re amazing humans,” Hammon said. “They care about each other. They invest in each other. It was an absolute honor to be their coach. I saw excellence and wanted to be part of it.
Hammon also paid tribute to former Aces coach Bill Laimbeer, who was on the court for the ceremony. “He put this team together and saw the pieces,” Hammon said.
Aces owner Mark Davis, who also owns the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders, was not with his football team on Sunday. He was in Connecticut to get a trophy. He hoisted it up, then handed it over to cheerful players who did the same.
“Las Vegas, we’re world champions,” Davis said.
Gray, who overcame serious career-threatening injuries in the past, was the WNBA Finals MVP, unsurprisingly after averaging 18.3 points and six assists in the series.
“My teammates are awesome,” Gray said, breaking down in tears. “I worked so hard for this.”
She was not a WNBA All-Star this season, nor an all-league first-team pick, and expressed her displeasure about it. In the end, she also had the last word.
“They can keep this All-Star and first team,” Gray said. “I have the ring.”