Aces falter early, late in loss to Chicago

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Steve Marcus

Las Vegas Aces center Liz Cambage, left, prepares for a jump ball at the end of the fourth quarter during a WNBA game against the Chicago Sky at the Mandalay Bay Events Center Friday, Aug. 9, 2019.

Fri, Aug 9, 2019 (10:13 p.m.)

The Aces let a spirited comeback go to waste on Friday, as offensive miscues down the stretch allowed the Chicago Sky to edge past Las Vegas, 87-84.

Las Vegas committed two turnovers and shot 0-of-4 as a team over the final 96 seconds, a stretch that included Kayla McBride and Sugar Rodgers missing potential game-tying 3-pointers on the final possession.

The loss dropped Las Vegas to 15-9 on the season.

“That one hurt,” head coach Bill Laimbeer said. “We fought back from a horrible start, got the lead, and the same thing keeps creeping in — we turn it over, we take a bad shot, we foul.”

Las Vegas probably didn’t deserve a win — the Aces started slowly and let Chicago open the game with an 18-2 run — but strong play from star center Liz Cambage and reserves Tamera Young and Rodgers helped the home team overcome the early deficit.

The Aces carried a 68-65 advantage into the fourth quarter and led, 74-72, with five minutes to play. The problems began once the game clock ticked under two minutes.

Las Vegas was trailing, 83-82, when guard Kelsey Plum hit a go-ahead jumper only to be called for traveling on the play, negating the bucket. Two possessions later, the Aces were down 85-84 when Cambage caught the ball in the post looking to give Vegas the lead. Three Chicago defenders swarmed her, and Cambage’s attempt to pass out of the traffic was misguided; she threw the ball out of bounds, giving possession back to the Sky.

After a pair of made free throws, Chicago had an 87-84 lead with 11 seconds to play. Kayla McBride missed a long 3-pointer from the top of the key and Rodgers collected the offensive rebound; Rodgers’ step-back 3 at the buzzer also missed.

Cambage finished with 28 points and 11 rebounds, while Young (10 points) and Rodgers (14 points) both hit double figures off the bench.

Still, it wasn’t enough to overcome the Aces’ sloppy play at the beginning — and most importantly, the end — of the game.

“We were unable to pull this one out,” Laimbeer said. “Very frustrating.”

Mike Grimala can be reached at 702-948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Mike on Twitter at twitter.com/mikegrimala.

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