By WG RAMIREZ
LAS VEGAS (AP) While the Vegas Golden Knights had a playoff game less than 2 miles from Frank Sinatra Drive at T-Mobile Arena, the Las Vegas Aces were hosting their own party at the Michelob Ultra Arena.
A sold-out crowd of 10,191 cheered as the Aces received their championship rings from owner Mark Davis, continued to erupt as the team’s new game introduction played on the jumbotron and roared endlessly as Las Vegas dismantled the Los Angeles Sparks 93-65 on Saturday night.
It’s a great environment, said WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert. Selling the home opener here for the ring ceremony is great, especially when the Knights are playing on the road. It’s pretty remarkable that they sold out tonight. So we love the fan base here and we love Vegas.
Aja Wilson had 23 points and six rebounds to lead the Aces, who led 31-13 after the first quarter and 59-28 at halftime. Kelsey Plum added 19 and Jackie Young 16.
For Los Angeles, it was Nneka Ogwumike who led the way with 16 points, while Karlie Samuelson contributed with 13.
The game was only a sideshow, however, as the night apparently belonged to the fans who were there to see the unveiling of the championship banner hung next to retired Aces coach Becky Hammons’ jersey, the players receive their championship rings and entertainment throughout the night. .
Yeah, I didn’t even know if they were going to hang it right there, but I’ll say it looks great next door, Hammon said of the banner and his jersey. They need some neighbors though. Other jerseys will be up there eventually, I know that.
And championship sellers, hopefully. Hopefully.
Anita Baker performed the national anthem and Coi Leray performed at halftime.
We couldn’t wear these rings without you, Wilson told the energetic crowd.
Now with the Sparks, after an off-season trade, Dearica Hamby was the first player from last year’s championship team to receive her ring.
Obviously a moment that I know I should probably be proud of and embrace,” Hamby told The Associated Press before the game. I mean, getting a ring is special, but I’m going to do it for the fans.
And fans returned the favor with an exuberant response as she and Davis embraced in midfield.
It’s the type of energy the defending champions have been expecting all season, given that the franchise has taken things to another level in time for the season.
Earlier this year, the Aces opened their new 64,000 square foot facility near Henderson, next to the Las Vegas Raiders headquarters, which many players say has set a new standard for every franchise in the league. .
They held their media day earlier this month at Vu Studios, a multi-story production facility with enhanced technological capabilities. The payoff came Saturday night when several video creations from that day were played on the arenas jumbotron, including veteran Sydney Colson appearing to run through a forest with an ax as Michael Jacksons Thriller performs while closing the scene by reproducing Jack Nicholsons’ notorious scene in The Brilliant.
This is Sydney! she exclaimed, imploring fans to make some noise.
Which they did loudly for her when Colson scored on a breakaway for her first points of the game with 4:24 left.
It was a scene Engelbert enjoyed not just for the Aces, but for the entire league.
I think you see what a great sports city Vegas is, and the Aces were here even before the Raiders, Engelbert said. Every time a franchise gets a first win in its history, like Chicago in 21 and Vegas last year, I think it helps lift the whole league.
AP Sports: https://apnews.com/hub/sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
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