The East Coast fans who clicked out of the Las Vegas Aces vs. Chicago Sky game on Tuesday night probably thought they weren't missing much. The Aces tore out to a league-record 41-point first quarter against the reigning champions, again besting their previous franchise record.
Those fans missed the largest comeback in WNBA history. The Sky (11-5) overcame a 28-point deficit to defeat the Aces (13-3), 104-95, at Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas. The previous mark was 25 points and had been done three times in the league's 26-year history.
"It's not something I want to do again," Chicago guard Allie Quigley joked, via ESPN. "But it was kind of weirdly calm. They're such a fast-paced team and so are we, there wasn't time to worry about the next play or even the score. It was just, 'OK, just keep chipping away, chipping away.'
"Obviously, looking back, it's unbelievable to be able to come back from that much and just shows what we're capable of and what we can do when we really put out minds to it and play the style of play we want to play."
The sides will meet again in the Commissioner's Cup championship game in July that has a $500,000 total prize pool. They have one final regular season meeting in August with the season-series tied, 1-1.
Vandersloot, 3s key Chicago comeback
Chicago (11-5) had 34 assists, which tied for third-most in league history, on 43 made baskets. Courtney Vandersloot scored 25 points with eight assists. She was 10-of-14 overall and made 3-of-5 3-pointers. The team was 57.3% from the floor overall and 48% (12-of-25) from beyond the arc, the biggest reason they were able to start climbing back into it in the second quarter.
The Sky fell behind quickly against the Aces' top-ranked offense that averages 91.5 points per game. Las Vegas dropped nearly half of that in the first 10 minutes alone, going up 41-18. It was their largest single quarter of the season and the most first-quarter points in WNBA history. Previously, the Aces scored 38 in a quarter and days later scored 39.
Las Vegas kept the offense going and built a 51-23 lead in the second with a 23-0 run, again the most of any WNBA team in 2022. It was also the biggest in league history against a defending champion, per ESPN Stats and Information.
But the Sky began hitting 3-pointers as the Aces defense lagged. They won the quarter, 33-21, and went into half down only 11 points, 62-51. They won the third, too, in a dominating 30-11 fashion to take an 81-73 lead into the fourth quarter.
“This one should hurt," Aces head coach Becky Hammon said. "They (the players) should lose sleep over it. I know I’ll lose sleep over it. But ultimately, these things happen … I think it’ll end up being good for us in the long run.”
Azura Stevens had 19 points on an efficient 8-of-10 day that included going 3-of-4 from 3-point range. She had seven of the team's 33 rebounds, all of which were on the defensive end. Emma Meesseman scored 17 points with six rebounds and six assists. Candace Parker, returning from a knee injury that kept her off the court last weekend, had a 17-point, 10-rebound double-double. Quigley scored 13 points with seven assists. Julie Allemand had six assists off the bench.
Aces part of more records
The Aces had five players in double-digits by the halftime break, a WNBA record. Las Vegas heavily relies on its starters almost exclusively — they average 81.1 PPG, most in WNBA history — but this time it was four starters and a reserve who hit the mark.
Jackie Young, an early MVP and Most Improved Player candidate, scored a team-high 23 points with six assists and five rebounds. Kelsey Plum scored 22 points with seven assists. A'ja Wilson had a 16-point, 11-rebound double-double and Dearica Hamby added 15 points on a 6-of-9 day with seven rebounds.
Chelsea Gray struggled, missing all six of her field goal attempts, but making all four free throws and dishing out seven assists. Theresa Plaisance scored 10 off the bench, going 3-of-4 from 3-point range, and Aisha Sheppard added five as the only other Aces player to score. They were 44% overall, 41.9% from 3 and assisted on 23 of 33 baskets. But after the hot first quarter, Las Vegas' shooting clip dropped to 35.8%.
There were plenty of records to fall in addition to the ones already listed. The combined 57 total assists are tied for second-most in a WNBA regular-season game (and fourth-most overall), per Across the Timeline. The combined 37 in the first half is a record for a half, via ESPN.
The six players with at least six assists each is a league record, per Across the Timeline. And the 17 3-pointers in the game are tied for a league record in a half. They cooled off to combine for eight in the second half.