Aces spoil Bird’s late three to take series lead in Seattle

Jackie Young looks to pass while guarded by Stephanie Talbot. Neil Enns/Storm photos.

Oh, what could have been. 

It had all the makings of a seminal moment for the season, if not for an iconic career. 

Trailing by one with 2.7 seconds to play, the Storm looked once more to Sue Bird and once more, she delivered, sending 15,431 fans at Climate Pledge Arena into a frenzy with a go-ahead 3-pointer from the corner. 

Less than two seconds remained between Seattle, a 2-1 series lead, and a chance to advance with a win Tuesday in front of another raucous home crowd. 

But it was not to be. 

Out of the timeout, the Aces’ Chelsea Gray found a streaking Jackie Young open under the basket, converting an easy layup to send the game to overtime. 

The next five minutes would be all Las Vegas, outscoring Seattle 18-6 to secure a 110-98 victory and get within one win of a trip to the WNBA Finals. 

“We had the game,” said Storm forward Breanna Stewart, “and we gave it to them.”  

A’ja Wilson led all scorers with 34 points for Las Vegas, followed by Chelsea Gray’s 29. Six Seattle players finished in double figures, paced by 20 points from Stewart and 17 each from Bird and Jewell Loyd.

The Aces controlled much of the first half, leading by as many as 14 midway through the second quarter, with Seattle cutting the deficit to eight by halftime. 

An 11-0 run in the third put the Storm up four, only for the Aces to respond with seven straight points of their own, taking a 68-64 lead into the final period. 

The teams traded the lead for much of the fourth — with Seattle buoyed by 12 points from Stephanie Talbot — before a Stewart lay-up with just under a minute to play put the Storm up by two. 

Epiphanny Prince grabs Sue Bird, whose hand is still in the air after sticking a long three. Neil Enns/Storm photos.

A missed 3-pointer from Kelsey Plum on the ensuing possession, and a pair of Loyd free-throws extended the Seattle lead to four with 11 seconds left. 

But only a second ticked off the clock as a Riquna Williams three brought the Aces back within one, with Las Vegas retaking the lead on a Wilson layup after a pair of missed Tina Charles free throws. 

“That to me is where we really let this one go,” Bird said. “I understand the last plays are going to stick out because they’re dramatic and exciting and I’m sure it was great TV, but we were up four.” 

Seattle has little time to regroup, with game four set for Tuesday night. The best-of-five series would return to Las Vegas for a winner-take-all game five on Thursday with a Storm win.