Aces close in on No. 1 seed by crushing Mercury

Updated:

A’ja Wilson had 30 points and nine rebounds and the defending WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces moved closer to clinching the No. 1 seed in the playoffs by thumping the host Phoenix Mercury 94-73 on Friday night.

Kelsey Plum scored 18 points, Jackie Young had 17 and Chelsea Gray added 14 points and 12 assists for the Aces (33-6), who will be the No. 1 seed if they defeat the Mercury in a rematch Sunday in Las Vegas or if No. 2 New York loses to Washington earlier Sunday.

The Aces overcame a slow start on Friday to take control by outscoring Phoenix 28-11 in the second quarter.

Sug Sutton had 18 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, Megan Gustafson scored 14 points, Moriah Jefferson had 11 and Brittney Griner added 10 to lead the short-handed Mercury (9-30), who have the worst record in the league after suffering their 10th consecutive loss. They played without Diana Taurasi (toe injury), Sophie Cunningham (jaw) and Shey Peddy (concussion protocol).

After the dominant second quarter, Las Vegas kept pouring it on in the third quarter, outscoring Phoenix 24-17 to open a 72-48 lead at the end of the period.

The Mercury scored the first four points of the game and played the Aces even through the first period.

Las Vegas took a six-point lead on two occasions, but Phoenix pulled even at 18, and after a jumper by Gray gave the Aces the lead back, Griner’s basket beat the buzzer and forged a 20-all tie at the end of the period.

Plum scored four points as the Aces opened a 27-22 lead early in the second quarter.

Gray, Young and Wilson scored four points each as Las Vegas expanded the lead to 15 points.

Griner and Brianna Turner each made a basket to give the Mercury a brief lift, before Gray’s jumper gave the Aces a 48-31 halftime lead.