“I honestly can’t beleive that happened… I really just didn’t want to go home. The basketball gods are obviously on our side.” -Dearica Hamby
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Las Vegas- Showing a resiliency and (potential championship) mettle that belies their relative late-season and playoff inexperience, Bill Laimbeer watched his Las Vegas Aces pull out an improbable victory in a thrilling 93-92 win over the Chicago Sky on Sunday afternoon.
In a move that may have surprised some, but paid dividends ultimately, Laimbeer elected to move mercurial guard Kelsey Plum to the bench, and insert Tamera Young into the starting lineup. However, in the end it was super-star sub (a term that so accurately describes Hamby’s role that she may have to trade mark it) Dearica Hamby, the newly-minted WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year who would provide the ultimate heroic play on the day.
After calling Liz Cambage’s number then seeing her heavily contested jumper fell well short, Chicago’s Astou Ndour knocking down an open three from the corner to put Chicago ahead 92-90.
Despite having clawed their way back from as far behind as fourteen points, and turning in easily the most successful season in the team’s short existence in Las Vegas, things looked all but lost for the Aces hopes at continuing to play deep into the postseason.
However, as she has been all season, Hamby was in the right place, at the right time, as she shot the gap in the passing lanes and easily made a theft on a woefully ill-advised Courtney Vandersloot pass, cleanly pulling off the steal and then incredibly draining a desperation three from thirty-plus feet to absolutely stun everyone in attendance, and ultimately provide the Aces with the game-winning points they needed to advance to the WNBA semifinals, with the 93-92 win.
Despite trailing for virtually the entire first half, Cambage and Hamby would play well off one another with Cambage on a few instances making the perfect pass, dumping it down low to a cutting Hamby or finding Wilson on a dive towards the basket. and vice versa. The Australian Cambage would show just how multi-faceted and dominant her game truly can be, as she was able to overcome a hot start by her opposing number Stefanie Dolson (nine first-quarter points) and roll to a dominant 23 point, seventeen rebound stat line; while also throwing in six blocked shots for good measure.
It must be said the Aces benefitted from a very solid all-around effort on the offensive end, as they got 17 and 15 points, respectively, off the bench from Hamby and Plum, as well as sixteen and eleven points from All-Stars Kayla McBride and A’ja Wilson.
Following the game, Laimbeer began his post-game media remarks by simply stating, “welcome to the playoffs,” before noting that this game ironically resembled another crazy finish in which a certain gravelly-voiced play-by-play announcer giddily shrieked, “Bird stole the ball!!”
For their part, both Wilson and Cambage noted how exciting the finish of this high-stakes game was, while also pointing out that in Wilson’s words they still understand their mentality has to be its “on to the next one.”
Don’t forget to follow Vegas Sports Daily for all the latest coverage of the Las Vegas Aces during their run through the playoffs.
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