Las Vegas routs New York 78-63 in Bill Laimbeer’s return
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — Bill Laimbeer and the Las Vegas Aces didn’t show any fatigue from playing back-to-back nights.
Dearica Hamby scored 17 points and Kayla McBride added 16 to lead a balanced offense in the Aces’ 78-63 victory over the New York Liberty on Wednesday night.
“I thought we played very hard and had great energy on a back-to-back,” Laimbeer said. “We’re young and that’s a big positive for us. Some of our bench players, Hamby played great, (Jaime) Nared was phenomenal defensively.”
Laimbeer, who coached the Liberty for five years before heading to Las Vegas in the offseason. He joked before the game that the teams ran the same plays and that they could call each other’s sets.
The familiarity certainly helped Las Vegas, which was playing the second half of a back-to-back. The Aces won in overtime in Indiana on Tuesday night before flying to New York on Wednesday morning.
The Aces led 37-33 at the half behind a balanced effort. Wilson had nine points in the first half as the Aces were able to overcome a 17-point first half by Tina Charles.
Las Vegas (3-7) extended the lead to a double-digit advantage behind Hamby after three quarters. The Liberty couldn’t get within single digits the rest of the way.
“The past few games we’ve been getting lucky, just squeaking by,” Charles said. “I believe we needed this, we needed to get smacked around and know what it feels like and hopefully we respond next time we have practice.”
New York’s frustrations boiled over with 6:03 left in the fourth when Shavonte Zellous was whistled for a foul. Zellous disagreed with the call and was ejected after receiving two technical from official Tiffany Bird.
Charles led New York (3-5) with 19 points. The Liberty had an off shooting night, going 4 for 24 from the 3-point line.
Both teams found out after the game that former Liberty coach Anne Donovan had died earlier on Wednesday of heart failure.
“One of the greater basketball players in her time slot,” Laimbeer said. “She stood out for her height, but also her playing ability and continued that throughout her whole life, coaching her ambassadorship. You name it, she did it.”
New York coach Katie Smith, who played for Donovan on USA Basketball and saw her this weekend in Knoxville, Tennessee at the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies was emotional when discussing her former coach’s death.
“It’s tough, it’s tough,” Smith said.
WE ARE NEW YORK: New Knicks coach David Fizdale and his staff took in the game, sitting near the Liberty bench. Kyle O’Quinn was also at the game.
FINALLY HEALTHY: For the first time this season the New York Liberty had their full roster available. Epiphanny Prince, who missed the first seven games while recovering from a concussion, played as well as Kiah Stokes, who was sidelined with plantar fasciitis. Prince received a warm ovation from the crowd when she entered the game in the second quarter. She played nearly 7:30 and had three points.
Aces: Finish off four-game trip in Dallas on Friday night.
Liberty: Play at Minnesota on Saturday.