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 off the floor 9 out of 13 and was named MVP after averaging 18 points over the run. The Aces improved to 4-0 in this year’s playoffs with two days of rest. 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 more points with 14 rebounds.
Vegas ended on an 8-0 run. When the buzzer sounded, Wilson grabbed the ball and stomped to the ground before being mobbed by her teammates.
“We champions! We champions! We champions!” Wilson yelled at teammates as they donned their championship hats and T-shirts for the trophy ceremony.
It’s the first major professional sports title for a Las Vegas team, and Wilson, of course, hopes this is just the beginning.
“You see it. You see it,” Wilson said during the celebration on the pitch. “This is what we’re building. This is what we’re doing. This is it. I’m so happy right now. “
Courtney Williams was 17 points ahead of Connecticut and Alyssa Thomas had her second triple-double in a row with 11 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. Jonquel Jones added 13 points and DeWanna Bonner had 12.
For Aces coach Becky Hammon, who failed to win a title in her standout WNBA career, the ring completed a decades-long quest. She left an assistant coaching position with Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs to take over in Las Vegas, and the move paid off.
“They’re incredible on the pitch, but they’re incredible people first and foremost,” 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 a part of it.”
Hammon also paid tribute to former Aces coach Bill Laimbeer, who was on the ground 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 soccer team on Sunday. He was in Connecticut to get a trophy. He hoisted it up and then gave it to merry players who did the same.
“Las Vegas, we are world champions,” Davis said.
Overcoming a number of serious injuries that threatened to sidetrack her past career, Gray was the WNBA Finals MVP, much to no surprise after averaging 18.3 points and six assists in the series.
“My teammates are amazing,” Gray said as she broke down in tears. “I worked so hard for this.”
She was not a WNBA All-Star this season, nor was she a first-team all-league pick, expressing her dismay at that. In the end, she also got the last word.
“They can keep that All-Star and the first team,” Gray said. “I have the ring.”