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LAS VEGAS – Game 1 was ugly for the Sky from the moment the ball tipped.

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They earned their spot in the postseason, closing the regular season with a 6-2 record. But in their 87-59 loss on Wednesday night, the Sky looked like a team that had no business playing the reigning champions in their quest for back-to-back titles.

“They took advantage offensively,” interim coach and general manager Emre Vatansever said. “His defense of him was on point. They were aggressive. “They were physical and we had a hard time getting into our offense.”

After opening the game on a 6-0 run, the Aces closed the first quarter with a 12-point lead, but their energy signaled what was to come. In front of a record attendance of 12,927, the Aces opened a 19-point lead midway through the second and led by as many as 32 in the final minutes.

The Aces controlled the game on the defensive end. They held the Sky to their lowest scoring output of the season by preventing their defense trio from finding any rhythm.

Kahleah Copper finished with 15 points, Courtney Williams added nine points and 11 rebounds and Marina Mabrey was held to just seven points, shooting 3 of 11 from the field.

Copper and Mabrey were held scoreless in the fourth quarter, while Williams only scored one field goal. As a team, the Sky shot 33.3% from the field and 22.7% from three and were outscored 44-28 in the paint.

“They beat us up, I’m not going to lie,” Williams said. “But we have another one. I mean, we have to maintain trust.”

Confidence isn’t all Sky needs to make things interesting in Sunday’s Game 2. They need more than the three-time All-Star from her, and she acknowledged that after the game.

“They threw a lot of different things (at me),” Copper said. “It was too much. I also have to be disciplined, wait for screens, demand some screens and make plays for my teammates.”

Copper alone cannot force a third game against the Aces.

To achieve that, Sky needs to find an answer to the Aces freight train offensive. Five Aces ended up scoring in double figures, led by Chelsea Gray, who had 20 points, seven assists and four rebounds.

MVP candidate A’ja Wilson had a quiet night by typical standards, with just 14 points, eight rebounds and four blocks. Jackie Young added 18 points and Kelsey Plum had 16 points. Sixth Player of the Year candidate Alysha Clark added 10 points off the bench.

“When we watch this movie, I don’t want to see any faces,” Copper said. “Because this is what happened there and we don’t want to go out and make the same mistakes.”


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