For 37 minutes, the Aces contained former MVP Breanna Stewart. The Seattle Storm forward, who leads WNBA in scoring, had scored just 8 points.
But with two minutes and 43 seconds left and the Aces trailing by four, Stewart rose from the 3-point line and nailed her shot to make it a three-possession game. Thirty-five seconds later, she did it again.
“Great players are going to always be great players,” Aces forward A’ja Wilson said.
In a matchup between the top-two teams in the Western Conference, Stewart’s clutch shots condemned the Aces to an 88-78 loss Wednesday night at Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena. Wilson posted a double-double (17 points and 16 rebounds) while fellow all-star Jackie Young had 13 points and five assists.
But the Aces have lost three of their past four games.
“You’re bound to hit adversity at some point of the season,” coach Becky Hammon said.
The Aces continue their four-game road trip at 5 p.m. Friday, when they play the first of consecutive games against the Minnesota Lynx at the Target Center.
Here are three takeaways from Wednesday’s game:
1. Turnovers haunt Hammon
The Aces (14-5) entered Wednesday’s game averaging 12 turnovers per game. They equaled that number two minutes and 15 seconds into the second half, when forward Dearica Hamby was stripped by Ezi Magbegor.
Turnovers cost the Aces, who gave the ball away 20 times and led to 23 points.
“They don’t need our help making them even better,” Wilson said.
Plum was the biggest culprit. She finished the game with six turnovers and just two assists, but she wasn’t alone. Seven Aces gave the ball away at least once and the starters combined for 15 of them.
“We threw the ball around the gym a lot tonight,” she said.
2. Stephanie Talbot takes over
With the Aces minimizing the damage caused by Stewart for most of the game, the Storm (12-7) turned to Australian forward Stephanie Talbot for scoring.
“She kind of just does everything for them,” Young said.
Talbot scored a season-high 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting in 26 minutes. She also went 3 of 5 from beyond the arc and grabbed three steals.
It was the first time Talbot hit double figures since Seattle’s season opener, outscoring three of the Aces starters.
“She just hit her open shots, did the little things,” Young said.
3. New-look Tina Charles
The Aces already have seen three-time gold medalist and 2021 WNBA scoring leader Tina Charles three times.
Charles signed with the Phoenix Mercury ahead of the 2022 season, but Brittney Griner’s detention in Russia, along with poor results, dismantled the team’s season. Charles and the Mercury agreed to a buyout on Saturday and the center joined the Seattle Storm on Wednesday.
“She’s another legitimate option for them,” Hammon said.
The former MVP scored four points on 2-of-8 shooting to go with five rebounds off the bench.
Contact reporter Andy Yamashita at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @ANYamashita on Twitter.