Chelsea Gray came to play.
The Las Vegas guard scored 22 points to spark the Aces to a 93-76 win over the Phoenix Mercury on Wednesday night at Footprint Center in downtown Phoenix and force Game 5 of the WNBA semifinal series.
Gray was 9 of 17 from the field and 4 of 7 from 3-point range in 23 minutes. She was everywhere for the Aces, adding six assists. Gray picked up two early fouls in the first quarter, but turned it on for the rest of the game to keep the Aces’ Finals hopes alive.
Sixth Person of the Year Kelsey Plum scored 20 points and six assists off the bench, while Riquna Williams had 17 points with three 3-pointers. A’ja Wilson added a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds (all on the defensive end).
The Aces shot 48.1% from the field with 11 3-pointers, 37 rebounds and 22 assists.
Game 5 of the semifinal series is 9 p.m. ET Friday in Las Vegas. It will be televised on ESPN2. The winner will face the Chicago Sky in the WNBA Finals. The No. 6-seeded Sky beat the No. 1 Connecticut Sun in four games earlier Wednesday. Game 1 of the Finals is scheduled for 3 p.m. ET Sunday on ABC.
Injuries, third-quarter drought doom Mercury
Las Vegas limited Phoenix to only 11 points in the third quarter as its lead ballooned. The Mercury had scored only two points at the 2:27 mark of the quarter when Kia Vaughn finally scored to end a 24-0 run by the Aces and a string of 12 straight missed field goals for the Mercury.
The Mercury couldn't right the ship after that.
Phoenix was limited by injuries as its bench depth took a hit and the starters were forced to play longer minutes.
Starting forward Kia Nurse left the game shortly after tipoff after sustaining a right knee injury and did not return. ESPN reported that Nurse was able to walk to the locker room and was scheduled to get an MRI. Sophie Cunningham (calf) also was ruled out before Game 4.
Mercury head coach Sandy Brondello said the loss of Kia Nurse early was disheartening for the team. Brondello will wait to get results back tomorrow but says Nurse's knee injury "doesn't look good" #WNBA @12News @12SportsAZ
— Lina Washington (@LWashingtonTV) October 7, 2021
Shey Peddy started the game hot with 11 points on 3-of-3 shooting and two 3-pointers in the first quarter. She finished with 13 points and six rebounds.
Mercury finally play at home
The Mercury finally got a true home-court advantage this postseason after playing their first two “home” playoffs games at GCU Arena and Arizona State’s Desert Financial Arena.
The NBA’s Phoenix Suns moved their scheduled preseason game against the Los Angeles Lakers earlier Wednesday so that the WNBA semifinals game could be played at Footprint Center in the ESPN broadcast window. Suns players watched the game courtside.