Las Vegas Aces win 2022 WNBA Championship, highlights from WNBA Finals Game 4

2022 WNBA Finals - Game Four
Getty Images
0 Comments

The Las Vegas Aces won the 2022 WNBA Championship on Sunday, winning the best-of-five series against the Connecticut Sun, 3-1. It marks the first WNBA title in franchise history for the Aces.

On Her Turf provided live updates during Game 4. See below to relive how the decisive game at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, unfolded.

‘Proving myself right’: With Vegas, Becky Hammon finally won her title


2022 WNBA Finals – Game 4 Live Updates

Fourth quarter highlights:

10:00 Q4: It could all come down to this. The Aces, up 53-49, are 10 minutes away from their first WNBA title. But anyone counting out Connecticut hasn’t watched this team play this season.

7:01 Q4: DeWanna Bonner with a HUGE three-pointer. Connecticut still trails, but only by three (60-57).

6:25 Q4: And Brionna Jones makes it a one-point game. She’s three-for-three from the floor this afternoon.

6:05 Q4: And another huge three-pointer, this one from Kelsey Plum of the Las Vegas Aces.

3:46 Q4: DeWanna Bonner makes three free throws in a row after getting fouled by Kelsey Plum.

2:22 Q4: Courtney Williams puts the Sun into the lead, 69-67. Connecticut on an 8-0 run.

1:39 Q4: Riquna Williams of the Aces with two huge three-pointers, back-to-back. Las Vegas leads 73-71.

0:53: AND ANOTHER ONE FROM RIQUNA WILLIAMS (video embedded below). Williams, in her second season with the Aces, is having a huge impact in the final moments of this game. She averaged just 6.7 points per game during the regular season.

0:48 4Q: OOF. Connecticut’s chances just got a whole lot tougher as DeWanna Bonner turns the ball over on an inbound. 2022 WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson just grabs the ball out of the air and makes it look easy.

0:18: The Connecticut Sun, normally so even keeled, looking very frantic in these final moments. You can feel their championship hopes slipping away.

0:00 Q4: THE LAS VEGAS ACES ARE THE 2022 WNBA CHAMPIONS. Final score: 78-71.

While digging into the archives the other day, I found this headline from a March 1999 edition of the Denver Post. Maybe, after all these years, people will finally stop underestimating Becky Hammon.

Third quarter highlights:

8:41 Q3: Back-to-back three-pointers. First from Chelsea Gray of the Aces… then Natisha Hiedeman of the Sun responds on the next play.

6:40 Q3: Does the second half already feel like a different game to anyone else? So much more offensive momentum than in the first half.

0:00 Q3: At the end of the third quarter, Las Vegas leads 53-49.

Halftime:

A couple key stats to keep in mind…

  • Both teams with a lot of turnovers. Nine from Las Vegas, eight from the Connecticut Sun.
  • Both teams also missing a lot of shots. The Aces finished the half with a field goal percentage of 33.3%, the Sun only slightly better (35.5%).

Second quarter highlights:

7:37 Q2: And the Aces aren’t letting the Sun get any momentum. 2022 WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson makes it 23-15.

6:50 Q2: And a double technical foul is assessed to the Sun’s Natisha Hiedeman and the Aces’ Kelsey Plum. Plum fouled Hiedeman, who responded with a shove.

5:28 Q2: Courtney Williams gets Connecticut back on the board, ending a run by the Aces (video below). She’s the only Sun player to score so far this quarter.

2:47 Q2: Jonquel Jones!! Great block, denying A’ja Wilson (video below). Jones, the 2021 WNBA MVP, has *checks notes* ZERO POINTS so far today?!

2:19 Q2: Scratch that! Jonquel Jones gets her first points of the game, earning a free throw along the way. Aces lead 25-20.

1:21 Q2: And the Sun are back in this thing! (How many times have we said that during this year’s WNBA Playoffs?? Too many to count.) DeWanna Bonner ties it up, 25-25.

0:00 Q2: At the end of the half, it’s a two-point game. Las Vegas leads 30-28.

First quarter highlights:

10:00 Q1: Quick refresher: After going 0-2 in Las Vegas, the Sun kept their championship hopes alive with a dominant performance at home on Thursday. Alyssa Thomas recorded the first ever triple-double in WNBA Finals history, scoring 16 points, 15 rebounds, and 11 assists.

9:30 Q1: The Connecticut Sun get on the board first thanks to DeWanna Bonner.

5:11 Q1: Chelsea Gray is doing her thing. She’s got five points so far, with the Aces leading 13-6. And then she runs into Sun coach Curt Miller, who is trying to call a timeout.

Quick refresher on Gray’s postseason dominance: she averaged 13.7 points per game during the regular season. During the WNBA Playoffs, though? 21.9 points per game.

2:41 1Q: Riquna Williams with a three-pointer (video below). The Las Vegas Aces on a 12-0 run, currently leading 16-6.

1:12 Q1: Ugh. DeWanna Bonner goes down. She’s getting checked out by medical staff as Connecticut takes a time out. On a replay, it appears she is elbowed in the stomach by Chelsea Gray.

0:46 Q1: And the Sun have turned it around. Alyssa Thomas cuts the Aces’ lead to four points (16-12).


Connecticut Sun vs. Las Vegas Aces — What they’re saying:

Jonquel Jones on the Connecticut Sun’s mindset heading into game four of the WNBA Finals:

“The mindset is to make sure that we come out aggressively. We have to have that same energy, or even better than last game. They’re (Aces) going to give us their best shot. They don’t want it to go to five games, and we do. Both teams are going to be playing really hard basketball, really tough basketball and we have to make sure that we’re affecting the game in the ways we need to come up with a W.”

Courtney Williams on what the Connecticut Sun needs to do to win game four:

“Contain Chelsea Gray and A’ja (Wilson). I think they are the head of the snake over there and we have to do our best to try and contain them.”

Chelsea Gray on how the Aces are feeling heading into game four of the WNBA Finals:

“Confident in who we are. Knowing that we’re going to do better this time coming out, on both ends, make some adjustments and get right to it. And compete and try and win a title.”

Jackie Young on how it would feel to win the WNBA title on Sunday afternoon:

“It’s something that you dream of as a little girl, something you work for your whole life and I’m just excited for the opportunity. We have one more game to get the job done and it starts on the defensive end for us.”


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.
Getty Images
0 Comments

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.
Getty Images
0 Comments

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.