Las Vegas Aces defeat Seattle Storm: Recap, post-game quotes and highlights from Game 4

Chelsea Gray #12 of the Las Vegas Aces celebrates during the game against the Seattle Storm on September 6, 2022.
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The top-seeded Las Vegas Aces will advance to the WNBA Finals after ending the Seattle Storm’s season on Tuesday, winning Game 4 in their best-of-five seminal series 97-92 in what was the final game of All-Star point guard Sue Bird‘s legendary career.

Following a wild 110-98 overtime win on Sunday, the Aces won the series 3-1 and are now in position to chase their first WNBA title in franchise history. Chelsea Gray led the Aces with 31 points and 10 assists, a new playoffs record, while A’ja Wilson had 23 points and 13 rebounds.

The Storm, who were aiming for their fifth WNBA championship, were paced by Breanna Stewart, who recorded a whopping 40 points and six rebounds. Jewell Loyd added 29 points and four rebounds, with Bird collecting eight points and eight assists.


Las Vegas Aces, Seattle Storm post-game quotes

Sue Bird on playing her final WNBA game: “Sad. Yeah. Obviously. So thankful for 20 years here,” she said as chants of “Thank you, Sue” filled Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena. “I’m gonna miss it so much. I’m not going anywhere, but I’m gonna miss it. I wish we could have done a little bit more to get to the finals. But I’m so proud of this team this year. I’m so so so proud to be a member of the Seattle storm. It has been my honor to play for this franchise, to play for these fans.

“I guess I just hope the next person that comes in and plays point guard here can just keep the tradition going. Keep the winning going; keep that championship level going; keep these fans happy. Same thing goes to the rest of the team as well, but I don’t know, I hope I made everybody in here proud.”

Chelsea Gray on having a standout season: “I got in better shape. I got stronger. I got tighter. I got meaner, I got leaner — everything. I just keep putting the work in, and I love my job. I worked so damn hard, on and off the court, and I’m just glad we’re able to go the finals. It’s been a long time coming for this group.”

Las Vegas head coach Becky Hammon on winning the series, ousting Sue Bird and the Storm: “It is hard to win here on any night, let alone given the circumstances, you know? Kind of feel like the girl that beat Serena [Williams]. It’s like bittersweet. I know myself and our whole staff and team and organization have so much respect for Sue. She’s had a fairytale career, one that kids dream of. She got to live it, she lived it out loud, and her thumbprint on the game is forever etched in. So we’re obviously thrilled to be going back to the finals, I’m pumped for our girls, but it feels weird. It feels weird.”

Seattle Storm head coach Noelle Quinn on the loss, Bird’s final game: “The ultimate goal in life isn’t solely about winning. We are more than basketball players. And so it’s continuing to grow as people, understanding that in a team environment, in a season, that’s one of the most important things. It’s not just what you do on the basketball court but who you become as a woman.”

Aces’ A’ja Wilson on teammate Chelsea Gray: “When Chelsea’s rocking and rolling, my biggest thing is just getting the hell out of her way. … She’s the head of our snake, so when she’s going, best thing is [think about] how can I make her life easier? What can I do to help her get easier looks or just dictate the game? I’ve never, ever seen someone, honestly, live, do that and dictate the game and just stay composed in all the moments. Like, she’s built for this moment.”

Breanna Stewart on teammate Sue Bird: “As sad as it is that we’re not having the ability to compete for a championship, I think what’s more devastating is … just the fact that we’re no longer going to be on the court with Sue. We’re not going to see her in practice, we’re not going play with her in games. So I think that’s what hurts the most is just having that come to a reality really, really quickly. And that’s the way sports go and that’s the way things go. But like Jewell [Loyd] said, it’s it’s been an honor to be able to share the court with her and not many people get to. Usually people only know the Sue Bird that they play against or the Sue Bird that they see from afar, and we know her from up close as a mentor as a teammate as a friend. And I just know that she’ll be always in our corner no matter what.”


Las Vegas Aces vs. Seattle Storm: Fourth-quarter live updates

8:48 Q4: Stephanie Talbot makes 9-foot pullup jump shot to bring Seattle within two points; Aces lead 66-64.

Breanna Stewart on Storm’s mindset ahead of the fourth quarter: “Be aggressive. You know, it’s win or go home. We want to make sure that we force a Game 5 and doing whatever I can to make that happen.”

7:30 Q4: Jewell Loyd makes 15-foot two point shot (video below) and draws the foul by Kelsey Plum. Loyd makes her free throw to tie it up at 67-67.

6:35 Q4: A’ja Wilson completes three-point play as Las Vegas moves back to a six-point lead, 73-67.

3:43 Q4: Breanna Stewart makes 26-foot three-pointer to bring Seattle within two at 80-78. She currently has 39 points.

2:39 Q4: Seattle’s Gabby Williams makes a driving layup (video below) to tie the game at 82-82 and draws the foul from A’ja Wilson. She makes her free throw as Seattle takes back the lead by one.

30.7 Q4: After Chelsea Gray puts Las Vegas back out from with 27-foot three-pointer, 90-87, she follows up with a jumper to extend the lead to five (92-87). Gray records the first 30-point 10-assist playoff game in WNBA history, according to Her Hoop Stats.

5.3 Q4: Jackie Young makes the second of two free throws to put the Aces up 97-92, as Seattle is out of timeouts.

0:0 Q4: The Aces are headed to the WNBA Finals, ousting the Storm from the playoffs as 13-time All-Star Sue Bird wraps a legendary career.


Las Vegas Aces vs. Seattle Storm: Third-quarter live updates

7:44 Q3: Aces’ Chelsea Gray makes three-point jumper as Las Vegas takes its first lead of the game, 49-47.

5:29 Q3: A’ja Wilson makes three-point play as Aces go up 54-49.

3:38 Q3: Back-to-back personal founds by Jewell Loyd and Stephanie Talbot put Seattle over the limit.

2:51 Q3: Riquna Williams makes 25-foot three pointer as the Aces score the last seven points, giving them their largest lead of the night at 62-54.

0:00 Q3: Chelsea Gray (16 points on 7-of-13 shooting) ends the third quarter with a jump shot from 19 feet, and Las Vegas takes a 66-59 lead into the fourth quarter. The Aces outscore the Storm 22-12 in the third quarter.


Las Vegas Aces vs. Seattle Storm: Second-quarter live updates

9:43 Q2: Jewell Loyd beats the clock (video below) and gets the scoring going again for the Storm with a 12-foot pull-up jump shot; Seattle leads 25-19.

6:56 Q2: Jewell Loyd makes her second three-pointer as Seattle goes up 31-24.

Kelsey Plum on the Aces first-quarter performance: “It’s about our defense right now,” she told ESPN. “We’re not we’re not getting stops, we’re letting Stewie shoot open threes. They’re getting to the paint; offensive rebounds are killing us. So, like, offense will come, but defense — we gotta get stops.”

5:20 Q2: Official timeout; Seattle leads 33-26.

3:46 Q2: Breanna Stewart makes another three and is now 5-for-5 from behind the arc (video below). She currently has 20 points in the first half. Seattle takes a timeout, leading 40-35.

0:00 Q2: The Storm take a 47-44 lead into halftime. Breanna Stewart closes the half with 26 points on 9-of-12 shooting, marking the second most points in a half in WNBA Playoffs history. Angel McCoughtry (27 points) scored the most points in a half in WNBA playoff history on Oct. 5, 2011.


Las Vegas Aces vs. Seattle Storm: First-quarter live updates

10:00 Q1: Las Vegas wins the tipoff as Game 4 in the semifinal matchup between the Aces and Seattle Storm gets underway in Washington. Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the country, the Connecticut Sun wrapped up a must-win Game 4 of their own vs. the Chicago Sky, winning 104-80. DeWanna Bonner and Courtney Williams each recorded 19 points, while Alyssa Thomas added 14. The series returns to Chicago on Thursday for the decisive Game 5 (8 p.m. ET on ESPN2).

9:15 Q1: Kelsey Plum makes back-to-back layups to give Las Vegas a 4-0 lead.

7:11 Q1: Sue Bird caps off a 7-0 Seattle run with a three-pointer from 25 feet (video below).

5:35 Q1: Breanna Stewart follows up a three-pointer from 24 feet with a driving layup and the Storm make it a 12-0 run. Seattle leads 12-7 as Las Vegas calls a timeout.

3:10 Q1: Breanna Stewart makes her third three-pointer of the quarter as Seattle goes up 20-14. Fun fact: Stewart has not lost a playoff series in her WNBA career.

1:24 Q1: Aces’ Riquna Williams comes off the bench and makes a 24-foot three-point jumper to bring Las Vegas within three as Seattle leads 20-17.

0:00 Q1: Seattle ends the quarter with a 23-19 lead. Breanna Stewart leads all scorers with 13 points, while Kelsey Plum leads Las Vegas scoring with 10.

“It’s actually not that difficult,” Sue Bird told ESPN ahead of tipoff regarding the possibility of it being the last game of her career. “I’m thinking about the game. I’m approaching this like every other game. I’m very aware what happens at the end of this game, or what could happen, but I’m really not thinking about it that. That’ll be there waiting for me no matter what. So might as well focus on this and try to get to a Game 5.”


Las Vegas Aces vs. Seattle Storm – Leading scorers ahead of Game 4

Aces leading scorers (points average):

  • Kelsey Plum, 20.2
  • A’ja Wilson, 19.5
  • Jackie Young, 15.9
  • Chelsea Gray, 13.7
  • Dearica Hamby, 9.3

Storm leading scorers (points average):

  • Breanna Stewart, 21.8
  • Jewell Loyd, 16.3
  • Tina Charles, 14.8
  • Ezi Magbegor, 9.5
  • Sue Bird, 7.8

What they’re saying ahead of Game 4 between Las Vegas Aces and Seattle Storm:

Seattle’s Sue Bird on bouncing back from Game 3 loss: “You just do. I don’t think any of us have forgotten, but at the same time, the beauty of sports, once the ball gets tipped, you can stay in that moment. Once the game goes, you’re so in the game. I think the same kind of logic applies to recovering from a loss like we had the other night. You think about it, you think about it, and once the ball gets tipped, you just play the game.”

Aces head coach Becky Hammon on facing four-time champion Storm: “You’re going to need a cushion against this team, because they’re not going anywhere. They’re going to always make a run, they’re never going away. So it’s about being locked in for the entire game, and executing.”

Storm forward Breanna Stewart regarding mindset for Game 4: “We need to just learn from today and take that to Game 4. You know, our backs are now against the wall, if you will., and it’s win or go home.”

Las Vegas’ A’ja Wilson on key to Game 3 win: “This is what we do. At the end of the day, we got to stay locked in. We’re playing in a hard place to play, but that’s how champions are born. …So for us, we just got to continue to stay locked into who we are. And I think the biggest thing is kind of what Chelsea [Gray] said: Just staying composed. We’re playing against the Seattle team that’s been here before, that can wave the storm — no pun intended — and the biggest thing is for us to be mentally tough in those situations.”


Las Vegas Aces vs. Seattle Storm: How to watch tonight’s game

  • WNBA Semifinal Game #4: ESPN2 (10pm ET, 7pm local)

Justine Wong-Orantes’ atypical path to becoming one of the best liberos in the world

Justine Wong-Orantes hits the ball in the women's semi-final volleyball match between USA and Serbia during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
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It’s been 20 years since the same nation held both the Olympic and world volleyball titles at the same time, but libero Justine Wong-Orantes is looking to help lead Team USA accomplish that very feat at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championships in the Netherlands and Poland. Competition began on Friday and the U.S. is currently 2-0 after group play wins against Kazakhstan and Canada.

“We’re trying to win, for sure,” Wong-Orantes told On Her Turf. “I think, especially with the new turn of the program and the new year of the quad, we just have a really nice blend of veterans and also newcomers on the team.”

The 14-woman roster for Team USA, which is ranked No. 1 in the world and won its first Olympic title last summer, features six players from that gold-medal-winning team. And while Wong-Orantes is among the 2021 U.S. Olympic team veterans, she’s still a relative newcomer to international play.

The Southern California native enjoyed a notable junior career – she was 12 when she became the youngest female to ever earn an AAA rating in beach volleyball – and was a standout collegian at Nebraska, where she was a member of the 2015 NCAA championship team. But Wong-Orantes followed a different path upon graduation, initially choosing not to go overseas to play professionally.

While she was first selected for the U.S. national team in 2016 and played a handful of international tournaments in the following years, it wasn’t until she started playing professionally in Germany in 2019 that she saw the potential to elevate her position on the roster. In particular, the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics gave her an additional year of overseas experience, which she calls “a blessing in disguise.”

“I just felt like I was still in that developmental stage,” she said. “And a whole year postponement allowed me to go overseas and really get all the touches, all the repetitions, and just kind of expose myself to international volleyball another year. So I was, in hindsight, pretty thankful for that COVID season because I got an extra year under my belt, and I think that just gave me a ton of confidence.”

Ahead of the Olympics, Wong-Orantes earned “best libero” honors at the 2021 FIVB Volleyball National League in Rimini, Italy, which helped secure her spot on the Olympic roster. In Tokyo, she followed up with another standout performance and was named best libero of the Olympic tournament.

As to how the Wong-Orantes transformed into one of the world’s top liberos, she points to her background as a beach volleyball player. She began competing at age 8, and her first partner was Sara Hughes, a star on the AVP Pro Tour who also won two NCAA titles with USC.

“I think having that background and just the court awareness that beach volleyball forces you to have allowed me to really have a good read on the game,” said Wong-Orantes. “I think that’s what makes a great libero is just reading and always being reactive towards the ball.”

Wong-Orantes also credits the assistance of mental coach Sue Enquist, a former UCLA softball coach and U.S. national team coach, who now helps teams work on their culture and relationships. Enquist began working with the U.S. volleyball team during the pandemic and has continued in her role ever since.

“We just worked on a lot of stuff within ourselves, within our program, how to communicate with each other off the court, and I think that honestly propelled us into such a high, high level with how we worked with each other, and then that transferred onto the court,” explained Wong-Orantes, who noted the team has Enquist on speed dial while at the World Championship. “I really commend Sue. I just really give a lot of praise to her because I think our culture was never bad, but I think [she] just transformed into a different level.”

2022-09-26 - FIVB Volleyball Womens World Championship 2022 - Day 4
ARNHEM, NETHERLANDS – Justine Wong-Orantes (far right) poses for a photo with her U.S. teammates after defeating Canada at the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship on September 26, 2022. (Photo by Rene Nijhuis/Orange Pictures/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

Wong-Orantes said she and her U.S. teammates are on their toes for the world championships, which features twice as many teams (24) as the Olympics and a “more grueling” format.

“It’s going to be a long tournament, and I think we’re really going to need all 14 of us that are here. I’m pretty certain that, at any given moment, someone’s going to be called on and someone’s going to need to step up in big moments.”

2022 Ascendant LPGA: How to watch, who’s playing in Texas’s annual signature event

Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand hits her second shot on the 16th hole during the final round of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.
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The LPGA make its annual stop in The Colony, Texas, this week for the 10th edition of the Ascendant LPGA benefiting Volunteers of America, where Thailand’s 19-year-old rookie Atthaya Thitikul comes in hot off her second career win and second playoff victory this season at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.

Leading the 132-player field at Old American Golf Club, located at Golf Clubs at The Tribute, are Texas residents and past champions Cheyenne Knight and Angela Stanford. They’ll compete for the $1.7 million prize purse alongside major champions Nelly KordaLydia Ko and Brooke Henderson. Last year’s Ascendant LPGA champion, world No. 1 Jin Young Ko, will not be defending her title after announcing earlier this month she would be missing several weeks due to a nagging wrist injury.

This past weekend in Arkansas, Thitikul took the lead with a 10-under 61 in the second round and shot 68 in the final round to finish regulation tied with Danielle Kang at 17-under 196. Thitikul, who won the JTBC Classic in March in a two-hole playoff vs. Nanna Koerstz Madsen, drained an 8-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole to secure the win over Kang.


How to watch the 2022 Ascendant LPGA 

Coverage of the 2022 Ascendant LPGA from Old American Golf Club in The Colony, Texas, can be found on Golf Channel, with streaming options available any time on any mobile device and online through NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

  • Thursday, Sept. 29: 12:30-3:30 p.m. ET, Golf Channel
  • Friday, Sept. 30: 12:30-3:30 p.m. ET, Golf Channel
  • Saturday, Oct. 1: 1-4 p.m. ET, Golf Channel
  • Sunday, Oct. 2: 1-4 p.m. ET, Golf Channel

Who’s playing in the 2022 Ascendant LPGA

Six of the top 10 players in the Rolex World Rankings are among the field in Texas, including:

  • No. 2 Nelly Korda
  • No. 4 Lydia Ko
  • No. 5 Atthaya Thitikul
  • No. 6 Brooke Henderson
  • No. 7 Lexi Thompson
  • No. 10 Nasa Hataoka

A number of local Texans also are in the tournament, headlined by past champions, Angela Stanford (2020) and Cheyenne Knight (2019), and two junior champions of the Volunteers of America Classic Girls Championship, who are playing on a sponsor exemption: Yunxuan (Michelle) Zhang (2022), a freshman at SMU, and Avery Zweig (2021), a high school sophomore from McKinney, Texas.


Past five champions of The Ascendant LPGA

YEAR WINNER SCORE MARGIN RUNNERUP
2021 Jin Young Ko (South Korea) 16-under 268 1 stroke Matilda Castren
2020 Angela Stanford (USA) 7-under 277 2 strokes So Yeon Ryu, Inbee Park, Yealimi Noh
2019 Cheyenne Knight (USA) 18-under 266 2 strokes Brittany Altomare, Jaye Marie Green
2018 Sung Hyun Park (South Korea) 11-under 131 1 stroke Lindy Duncan
2017 Haru Nomura (Japan) 3-under 281 Playoff Christie Kerr

Last time at The Ascendant LPGA

South Korea’s Jin Young Ko carded a final-round 69 to maintain her 54-hole lead at Old American Golf Club and held on for a one stroke win at the 2021 Volunteers of America Classic, her eighth career LPGA tour title. Ko finished regulation at 16-under 268, edging Finland’s Matilda Castren by one stroke.

It kicked off a five-win season for Ko, who had just lost her No. 1 ranking to Nelly Korda the week prior after holding the top spot for 100 straight weeks. She regained the No. 1 ranking back in October 2021, after earning her fourth win in seven starts at the BMW Ladies Championship.


More about Old American Golf Club

Opened in 2010, the Old American Golf Club is one of two clubs at The Tribute, a lakefront resort community on Lewisville Lake in The Colony, Texas. Designed by Tripp Davis and 12-time PGA Tour winner Justin Leonard, Old American plays as a Par 71 and stretches to 6,475 yards on the tournament scorecard.