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    Sunday, May 26, 2024

    Sun, Aces to meet in rematch of 2022 WNBA Finals

    Las Vegas Aces guard Chelsea Gray (12) drives between Connecticut Sun defenders forward Alyssa Thomas (25), center Brionna Jones (42), and forward DeWanna Bonner (24) during last year’s WNBA Finals at Mohegan Sun Arena. The two teams on Tuesday night at the Sun. (Day file photo)

    Mohegan — The last time the Las Vegas Aces made a trip to Mohegan Sun Arena, they captured the WNBA championship in Game 4 of the league finals, toppling the Connecticut Sun 78-71.

    The Aces return for a pair of regular-season games Tuesday and Thursday this week, both slated for 7 p.m. starts, matching the two conference leaders. Las Vegas leads the Western Conference at 6-0, while Connecticut is atop the Eastern Conference at 6-1.

    Sun first-year head coach Stephanie White said now is as good a time as any to meet the defending WNBA champs.

    “Even though the season is a sprint and a marathon, we’re still early in the season, so I think having an opportunity to get Vegas a couple times right now is really good for us to figure out where we are matching up with a team that won a championship and that’s a favorite to win a championship,” White said.

    “And (to find out) where are some areas that we need to continue to grow and get better.”

    The Aces are led by guard Jackie Young with 21.8 points per game and center A’ja Wilson with 20.7 points and 8.7 rebounds. They also boast Chelsea Gray, Kelsey Plum and Candace Parker, giving them a roster rich with all-star talent.

    Las Vegas is coming off a 84-80 win Sunday at Indiana in which the Aces trailed by double figures with 7 minutes, 48 seconds remaining. Wilson, the former South Carolina star, finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds, while Young had 19 points.

    The Sun defeated the Dallas Wings on Sunday 80-74, getting 22 points from DeWanna Bonner and 21 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals from Brionna Jones.

    The Aces lead the WNBA with 93.7 points per game while the Sun have prided themselves on defense, limiting Wings leading scorer Arike Ogunbowale to a season-low eight points Sunday on 3-for-16 shooting.

    “Every day we’re getting a little bit better,” Jones said following the Sun’s win over Dallas. “We’re not where we want to be or where we know we’re going to be at the end of the season. But we’re closing out tight games and finishing close games that we could have let slip but we’re definitely grinding our way to those wins in the end.

    “Every day we can grind out a win, that’s going to help us down the road.”

    White credits her players for that grind, while acknowledging that some of the wins might not have been as close if not for a few inconsistent stretches by the Sun late in games. The Sun led by 17 against Dallas before allowing the Wings to pull within four late.

    White called the lineup Connecticut will face against Las Vegas “a tremendous challenge to our staff and a challenge for our team.”

    “They have a lot of weapons,” White said. “Now we’re going to have to pick our poison in what we’re going to settle for and what we’re going to try to take away.

    “This isn’t a ‘rematch’ because we’re (both) different teams now. They’ve got different pieces. We’ve got different pieces. I hope that for us and what I expect from us is to just come in and prepare to win a ballgame no matter who the opponent is.”

    v.fulkerson@theday.com

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