Liberty tops league-leading Aces in Commissioner’s Cup 82-63; Jonquel Jones named MVP

The New York Liberty (24-6) took down the league-leading Las Vegas Aces 82-63 in the third annual WNBA Commissioner’s Cup competition Tuesday night. Liberty forward/center Jonquel Jones earned the MVP award with 16 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. Teammate Marine Johannès scorched the Aces from three-point land with five three-pointers at Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas.

It was the first home loss of the summer for Las Vegas (27-3). It was also the third of four meetings between the two franchises this summer. The Liberty hold the lead in the series now, 2-1.

Johannès had back-to-back treys in the first quarter that gave her team a 17-8 lead with a minute left in the first quarter. The Liberty went into the second stanza with a 17-11 advantage and Johannès continued her three-point onslaught with a fourth one early in the quarter for a 28-17 lead for  New York. However, Vegas fought back and guard Chelsea Gray made a free throw to tie the game up at 32 all with 41 seconds left before the half. Jackie Young followed up with a running layup to give the Aces a 34-32 lead at the break.

Tables turned in the third quarter as New York outscored the home team 24-14 in ten minutes to head into the last quarter with a 56-48 lead.

Three other Liberty players scored in double digits including Breanna Stewart (13 points, seven rebounds), Sabrina Ionescu (12 points, eight rebounds), and Courtney Vandersloot (11 points, six rebounds, and 10 assists). Stewart was the 2021 Commissioner’s Cup MVP.

Young led the Aces with 16 points and four rebounds. Gray and Kelsey Plum had 15 points each. Gray also collected six rebounds and dished out five assists while Plum had six assists.

The top teams in the Eastern and Western Conference play in the in-season competition.  Players and charities benefit financially from the event. As winners, Liberty players received about $30,000 while Aces players earned about $10,000. The Liberty chose Callen Lorde Health Center as its beneficiary while the Aces selected NAMI Southern Nevada.

“In New York when the Liberty wins we all win! Callen-Lorde is proud to be your partner and we are grateful for your commitment to our mission to provide affirming healthcare for LGBTQ+ people and supportive, sex-positive healthcare for all women,” Donnie Roberts, Senior Director of Development and Communications at Callen-Lorde said in a statement.

Last season, the Aces won the competition and Seattle won the first one in 2021. The game doesn’t count toward the season’s win-loss count. The two teams meet again this week in Las Vegas on Thursday in a regular-season contest. Counting the Commissioner’s Cup, the Liberty is on a seven-game win streak.

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