The Washington Mystics survived a last-second attempt by Kelsey Plum to escape with a 97-95 victory over the Las Vegas Aces in Game 1 of their WNBA semifinal series on Tuesday night.
The heavily favored Mystics now lead 1-0 in the best-of-five series, which continues with Game 2 in Washington on Thursday.
Laimbeer Blasts Officials
The final moments of Tuesday’s game were controversial in a couple of different aspects. First, many thought that Washington star Elena Delle Donne fouled Plum on her last-second shot, but nothing was called by the referees.
But, Aces coach Bill Laimbeer was more upset over the fact that he didn’t get a time out that he was frantically trying to call before the final possession.
“I was standing next to the referee by design; as soon as they missed a shot, I would be yelling, ‘Time out! Time out! Time out!’” Laimbeer told reporters. “They missed the shot, we got the rebound, I yelled it five times. And she even looked at me when I was yelling, and made a conscious decision not to call a timeout. I don’t understand why.”
Emma Meesseman led the Mystics with 27 points and 10 rebounds, while Delle Donne poured in 24 points of her own. A’ja Wilson scored 23 points to lead Las Vegas.
Sun Defeat Sparks Behind Balanced Attack
The other WNBA semifinal saw the Connecticut Sun earn a relatively comfortable 84-75 win over the Los Angeles Sparks to take a 1-0 lead in the series. Alyssa Thomas scored 22 points to lead the Sun, who also got 19 points from Jasmine Thomas and 16 from Jonquel Jones.
The first three quarters were closely contested, with the Sun holding just a 59-58 lead heading into the fourth period. But, Connecticut pulled away early in the fourth, and never trailed in the final quarter.
The Sparks got double-doubles from Candace Parker (24 points, 10 rebounds) and Nneka Ogwumike (20 points, 10 rebounds). But, they were the only two Los Angeles players to score in double figures on the night, something head coach Derek Fisher says will have to change as the series goes forward.
“We have a third and fourth, fifth person that’s capable of scoring points,” Fisher told reporters. “But we couldn’t sustain it, particularly from our backcourt.”
Liberty Win First Pick in WNBA Draft
While the league’s best teams were battling it out in the WNBA semifinals, the worst franchises were hoping for luck in Tuesday night’s draft lottery.
The New York Liberty received the top pick, after having a 44.2 percent chance of doing so based on having the league’s worst cumulative record over the past two WNBA seasons. This will mark the first time that the Liberty have gotten the first pick in a WNBA draft.
“This is an exciting time for our organization and our fans,” New York general manager Jonathan Kolb told reporters. “Once again, we have the opportunity to bring in some of the best basketball talent available as we continue working to build toward a WNBA championship.”
The Liberty are widely expected to select Oregon guard Sabrina Ionescu with the first overall pick. Ionescu set the record for the most triple-doubles in NCAA basketball history, accomplishing the feat 18 times so far in her collegiate career.