A'ja Wilson poured in 29 points Tuesday to carry the top-seeded Las Vegas Aces to an 83-75 victory over the Connecticut Sun in the WNBA playoff semifinals in Bradenton, Fla.
Wilson, the league's most valuable player in the regular season, added seven rebounds, seven blocks and three assists as the Aces knotted the best-of-five series at 1-1. Angel McCoughtry had 11 points, three rebounds and three assists, Dearica Hamby contributed 11 points and four assists and Kayla McBride also scored 11 points for Las Vegas.
DeWanna Bonner had 23 points, seven rebounds and three assists to lead 7th-seeded Connecticut. Briann January scored 20 points, while Brionna Jones and Jasmine Thomas chipped in 10 apiece for the Sun. Thomas had a career-best 31 points in Connecticut's 87-62 Game 1 victory.
Sun starting forward Alyssa Thomas injured her right shoulder during the first quarter and did not return.
In the first half, January made all five of her shots to score 13 points and lift the Sun to a 39-38 lead.
The Aces gained a 46-44 edge early in the third quarter, but Connecticut went on a long-range barrage: Bonner drilled her second 3-pointer of the half, January sank a 26-footer after a Las Vegas turnover, and Bonner knocked down another for a 53-46 Sun advantage.
Las Vegas responded with eight unanswered points and appeared ready to take control, but went cold as Connecticut regained the lead with another surge.
Connecticut led by six with less than eight minutes to play, but 67-61 lead evaporated quickly. Wilson sparked the Las Vegas rally, sinking an 11-footer, and soon after a putback that tied it at 67.
The heavily favored Aces trailed as late as four minutes remaining, but after the teams scrambled through some up-and-back, there was Wilson with 1:03 remaining, driving to the basket and converting a three-point play to give Las Vegas the lead for good at 78-75. Following a Sun turnover, Wilson scored again while getting fouled. She missed the free throw but Hamby made the putback for a seven-point Aces lead with just 26 seconds remaining.
In that final 1:03, Las Vegas finished with an 8-0 surge. Game 3 is Thursday.