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)

Diana Flores looks to break down gender barriers with turn as AFC offensive coordinator in 2023 Pro Bowl

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Diana Flores admits she was surprised when she became a viral sensation last spring, courtesy of a 15-second slow-motion clip showcasing her evasive maneuvers and fancy footwork while leaving at least three defenders in the dirt during Mexico’s 2022 national collegiate flag football championship.

“I never expected someone to record that moment,” said Mexico City native Flores, who led her team – the Monterrey Tech Borregos – to their third consecutive national title as a senior last May. “I was just having fun. I was just playing the game I love and then days later to see that it was viral on the internet — it was crazy. But at the same time, it was exciting because I remember when I was younger, I didn’t have a lot of flag football role models to follow. So now, for me to be a role model for many boys and girls that play my sport is something that really makes me happy and proud and also motivates me to keep getting better.”

Flores, who led the Mexico Women’s National Flag Football Team to a gold medal at the 2022 World Games, will have the chance to promote her sport on one of the world’s biggest stages this weekend when she serves as the AFC offensive coordinator for the NFL’s 2023 Pro Bowl Games, featuring the first-ever AFC vs. NFC Flag football games on Sunday in Las Vegas.

Organized in partnership with RCX Sports, the NFL’s flag football operating partner, and the International Federation of American Football (IFAF), Sunday’s Pro Bowl event will feature three 7-on-7 AFC vs. NFC flag games. Each game will be 20 minutes in length (two halves) and played on a 50-yard field with 10-yard end zones. Flores will be joined by Peyton Manning as the AFC head coach and Ray Lewis as defensive coordinator. On the NFC side, U.S. Women’s National Flag Football team quarterback Vanita Krouch will serve as offensive coordinator, with Eli Manning as NFC head coach and DeMarcus Ware as defensive coordinator.

“I think that this has been one of the best things in my life,” she recently told On Her Turf about her Pro Bowl appointment. “It is like a dream. I mean, I grew up watching football, watching the NFL, playing flag football. And now to be able to be part of all of this — it is bigger than my biggest dreams.”

Flores’ football dreams began as when she was just 8 years old. Her father — who played quarterback for the perennial football powerhouse Monterrey Tech program — took her to a practice and she fell in love with the sport. But as the time there were no teams for girls her age, so she played with girls twice her age and used it to her advantage, focusing on her own abilities and sharpening her skills. By age 14 she was playing NFL Flag in Mexico, where she was the only girl in the league, and at 15 she started playing NFL Flag in the U.S, where she finally played on an all-girls team.

ALSO FROM ON HER TURF: U.S. flag football star Vanita Krouch ‘living the dream’ ahead of NFL Pro Bowl debut as NFC coordinator

“I remember when I started playing, I used to receive a lot of like comments, directly and indirectly from other people, like, ‘Why do you play that sport? That’s not a girls’ sport, that sport is for boys, you’re get injured, you’re going to get hurt, don’t play with boys, that’s too rude.’ And the list keeps going. But my mom and dad were so supportive. They always encouraged me not to listen to anybody, to just follow my passion.

“And I think thanks to them, I’ve always had this mentality that gender doesn’t matter. It just matters how passionate you are about your dreams, how hard you work for what you want to achieve. And that you will always demonstrate what you’re made for, depending on the hard work you do. So, I’ve lived through that [negativity], I have experienced that. And I think that it has been one of my biggest blessings to be able to experience — for myself — what sport can do and how gender barriers get broken when you follow your dreams and you connect with other people through your passion.”

At just 16 years old, Flores made Mexico’s national team, playing in the first of four Flag Football World Championships – so far. Last summer at the World Games in Birmingham, Alabama, the 24-year-old Flores led Mexico to a 6-0 record, which included two wins over the U.S. women, who took silver. In the gold medal game against the United States, she completed 20 of 28 pass attempts for 210 yards and four touchdowns in Mexico’s 39-6 victory. She finished the tournament with 23 touchdown passes, the third-most among women’s teams, and she was the only starting quarterback to beat USA’s star QB, Krouch, who is 19-1 in international tournament play.

All that international experience so early in her career has given Flores a wise-beyond-her-years approach to playing flag football, a sport where she was frequently the only female player on the field and often the only Latin American as well.

“When I first came to the U.S., it was a little shocking to notice that I was probably the only Latin American girl playing,” she recalls. “But I think that it was easy for me because I got all the support from my coaches and my teammates. And since a young age, I think that I started to realize that sometimes what you do is for something bigger than yourself. That’s why you have to always give your best, in any situation. Even at that young age, I understood that I was representing more than myself on the field, I was representing Latin American people, Latin American girls in a sport that [many people thought] was meant to be for boys.”

RELATED: NFL still pushing for Olympic flag football with a chance ahead

One door Flores hopes to help open is the one leading to the Olympics. Flag football is on the short list being considered for inclusion in Los Angeles in 2028 Los Angeles. As an ambassador for flag football for the NFL and the International Federation of American Football (IFAF), she’s participated in talks with the International Olympic Committee, and just last month she was joined by First Lady Dr. Jill Biden in Mexico City where they joined forced to promote women’s empowerment and inclusion.

“I think for me, that experience is one of my top three,” she said of spending time with Biden. “I call them gifts from life, something that you didn’t expect it to happen, and somehow, one day, you’re right there in front of the First Lady. I admire her for what she does for boys and girls, for empowering woman and giving opportunities for everybody to achieve their dreams. So it was truly an honor to meet her, and also to be able to keep impacting my sport, not only on the field, but [off] the field, and have the opportunity keep inspiring others and keep impacting the world.”

As for what she hopes fans at the Pro Bowl and viewers at home take away from Sunday’s flag football showcase, Flores hopes they’ll see the characteristics that made her fall in love with flag in the first place: creativity, speed, agility, teamwork, passion and a lot of heart.

“I hope to show to all little girls and women that dreams come true, that nothing is impossible, to keep inspiring and opening opportunities and doors for women in sports, especially in the world of the NFL and football and flag football,” she says. “We’re going to make history, and I am so proud and happy for that. I’m really hoping that it is just the first step, not only for me, but for all the women that are coming after me.”

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Flag football star Vanita Krouch ‘living the dream’ ahead of NFL Pro Bowl debut as NFC coordinator

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When Vanita Krouch got the news that she was named NFC offensive coordinator for the 2023 Pro Bowl Games, featuring the first-ever AFC vs. NFC Flag football games on Sunday, the U.S. Women’s National Flag Football team quarterback admits her jaw nearly hit the ground.

And then she realized something even more profound.

“For the longest time, thinking about the moment, everything, you’re like, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is a dream come true. Is this really happening?’” said the 42-year-old Krouch, known as the “Tom Brady of flag football” with a 19-1 record as USA’s starting quarterback in international tournaments since 2018.

“But then I started thinking to myself: You know what? None of us grew up thinking of this as a dream to obtain. So really, it’s kind of reversed where I’m living a dream. I get to be a pioneer in this growth of flag football for all and inclusion for all, youth and adults, [women and men]. It’s such an inclusive sport, and I get to be a part of this growth and still actively play. It’s exciting. I’m literally living the dream. I’m very much like, ‘Guys, don’t pinch me. Let me keep sleeping.’”

Organized in partnership with RCX Sports, the NFL’s flag football operating partner, and the International Federation of American Football (IFAF), Sunday’s Pro Bowl event will feature three 7-on-7 AFC vs. NFC flag games. Each game will be 20 minutes in length (two halves) and played on a 50-yard field with 10-yard end zones. Krouch will be joined by Eli Manning as NFC head coach and DeMarcus Ware as NFC defensive coordinator. On the AFC side, Mexico Women’s National Flag Football quarterback Diana Flores will serve as offensive coordinator, with Peyton Manning as head coach and Ray Lewis as defensive coordinator.

But Krouch’s journey to the Pro Bowl stage began under the unlikeliest of circumstances and was inspired by her own family odyssey, which began in Cambodia during the horrific regime of the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970s. Krouch’s mother, Phonnary Krouch, fled the country with three young sons in tow, running by night and hiding by day to escape, finding safety initially at a refugee camp in the Philippines. That’s where she welcomed Vanita, in September 1980, and two months later the family made its way to the United States. Krouch’s father exited the picture upon their arrival in America, leaving Phonnary to raise four children alone.

“In a nutshell, my mom is an amazing woman,” said Krouch, who first found sports via an elementary school flyer advertising youth soccer in Carrollton, Texas. “On the journey, she had a lot of trials, tribulations, … and after our dad left us, it was just mom and four kids in this little one-bedroom apartment. So, it was a challenge. I’m just so amazed by her strength and will to never give up.”

She also credits her mom for standing up to then-stereotypical notions that Asian girls should not play sports.

“I’m just thankful, honestly, that my mom allowed me to break the Asian culture barriers of a woman playing sports because that’s not easy,” she said. “She faced a lot of backlash from the community. But she said, ‘Hey, my child’s making good grades. She’s healthy, she’s good. She’s staying off the streets. I don’t see a problem.’ And she just let me do it. I was just lucky to have a mom that let me spread my wings.”

Krouch also had a few mentors along the way. Her elementary school PE teacher, Toni Neibes, stepped in to pay for those initial soccer fees and continued her support as Krouch transitioned to basketball in the fourth grade. She fell in love with the sport and excelled at it as well, eventually earning a full scholarship to play college basketball at Southern Methodist University. She wears the No. 4 to this day in honor of Niebes, who wore the same number as a young athlete. She also credits her fourth-grade teacher, Judy Ward, as having a lasting impact after the teacher made a habit out of showing up for her youth basketball games.

She pays tribute to them both through her clothing line, 4Ward Apparel, which features ever-changing collections emblazoned with relevant slogans encouraging female empowerment, inclusion and her personal mantra of “paying it forward” – something she does with the line itself. Each month, Krouch donates a portion of the sales to individuals, families or organizations in need.

After graduating SMU in 2003, Krouch continued to play basketball in semi-pro and adult leagues, but she was still searching for something to satisfy her competitive drive. She and a former college teammate stumbled on flag football during a Google search for local Dallas-area activities, and the rest – as they say – is history.

“It was like I drank the Kool Aid and I never looked back,” she says of her start in flag in 2006. “It’s just like every game, every play is a new challenge, and it’s addictive for a competitor, so I just fell in love with flag. I actually think I’m way better at flag than I was at basketball.”

She moved into the quarterback position through some sly maneuvering by current USA Women’s Flag Football head coach Chris Lankford. They were playing together in a local tournament when he “tricked” her into the QB position, despite Krouch knowing “zero football language.”

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“One day I showed up for a tournament and I asked, ‘All right, guys, who’s our quarterback?’ And he says, ‘We’re looking at her,’” she remembers. They kept the plays simple, and her team made it to the playoffs that season. Krouch has been a QB ever since.

Krouch joined the national team in 2016 and was inducted into the National Flag and Touch Football Hall Fame that same year. Last year at the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama, a 41-year-old Krouch set a new mark as the oldest Flag football player, man or woman, in the games, and she ranked second among women with 25 touchdown passes at the tournament where USA won silver.

She aims to bring that expertise to the field at the Pro Bowl games, where she’s looking forward to seeing NFL players take on the flag football style type of plays. “Flag is a very finesse, quick game, a lot of footwork, and these guys can’t grab or hold, no downfield contact or downfield block or anything off the line,” she explains. “So it’s going to be exciting just to see skill for skill, footwork for footwork, defense to offense, and to see flag football language with those type of elite athletes.”

As for the biggest challenge, Krouch believes it will be crafting a concise playbook and language that puts everyone on the same page. “A challenge for me is getting a coach’s mindset,” she adds, “I have to actually come up with plays ahead of time and I don’t usually have premeditated plays in my head. I just read it so for me to tell Kirk Cousins or Geno Smith [what to do], it will be different, you know?”

But beyond the Pro Bowl, Krouch is excited that flag is being considered for inclusion as an exhibition sport in the 2028 Summer Olympics. While she’s keeping a hopeful eye on that development, she’s also working to shape the next generation of potential athletes as a physical education teacher at La Villita Elementary in Irving, Texas.

RELATED: NFL still pushing for Olympic flag football with a chance ahead

“It’s an honor to be a role model – for other youth flag football players, for my students, both boys and girls,” says Krouch. “Then at my campus and in my community, it’s amazing to be able to break the barrier of like, ‘Asian women can’t do this.’ And then to be at my age, still doing this, I feel very lucky and blessed. …I think I still got some years in me.”

As for what she hopes viewers and fans walk away with after watching the Pro Bowl flag games this weekend, Krouch feels confident folks will walk away enlightened by the show.

“I just hope that they have fun with it,” says Krouch. “And for those who don’t know flag to be like, ‘Wow, that’s really amazing. Maybe that’s something I really can get my son or daughter into at a young age.’ So I just hope that they see that the sport is real – it’s not just something we play at recess. It’s a real thing now. I think they’ll see that the world loves it, the world can play it and is playing it.”

Be sure to check back with On Her Turf later this week when we catch up with AFC coordinator and Mexico Women’s National Flag Football Team quarterback Diana Flores.  

MORE FROM ON HER TURF: Diana Flores looks to break down gender barriers with turn as AFC offensive coordinator in 2023 Pro Bowl