By TIM BOOTH
AP Sports Writer
SEATTLE (AP) — Jackie Young sent the game in overtime with a buzzer-beating basket and then Chelsea Gray and Kelsey Plum hit big shots in the extra session to help the Las Vegas Aces beat the Seattle Storm 110-98 on Sunday to move within a victory of advancing to the WNBA Finals.
Las Vegas took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five WNBA playoff semifinal series after some wild final moments of regulation and a dominant performance in overtime.
Gray had been quiet in the fourth quarter but scored eight of her 29 points in overtime including a pair of 3s that silenced Storm fans that had been roaring only a few minutes earlier when it appeared Seattle was on the cusp of winning the pivotal game.
Seattle led 92-90 with 0.8 seconds left in regulation after Sue Bird hit a corner 3. It was a storybook moment to be another highlight in Bird’s final season before retiring.
But on the ensuing inbound play, Young got free on a switch and scored in the lane ahead of the buzzer to send the game to overtime.
Las Vegas outscored Seattle 18-6 in overtime.
A’ja Wilson finished with a playoff career-high 34 points and 11 rebounds. Gray added 12 assists and Riquna Williams added a key 14 points off the bench. Plum had 16 points, including a key three-point play to start overtime for the Aces.
Breanna Stewart led Seattle with 20 points, while Bird and Jewell Loyd both had 17. Tina Charles added 16 points but missed a pair of free throw with 7.2 seconds remining in regulation that could have given Seattle a three-point lead.
Seattle trailed by as many as 15 in the first half, and now have to a way to rebound from an emotionally draining loss. The Aces victory also moved Bird one step closer to retirement. Bird has announced this will be her final season, and Las Vegas can send her off into retirement as one of the greatest players in league history with a victory in Game 4.
The second half was filled with wild emotional swings and a conclusion to regulation that featured big plays one after another.
Stewart had been held in check but scored on three straight possessions as the teams traded baskets for most of the final three minutes. Stewart’s driving finger roll with 55 seconds left gave Seattle an 87-85 lead.
Plum missed a 3-pointer on the net Las Vegas possession. Stewart missed a contested shot, but the rebound went to Seattle. Loyd was fouled and hit both free throws with 11 seconds left.
Williams hit a 3 with 8.9 seconds left for Las Vegas before Charles missed her foul shots. Wilson put Las Vegas ahead 90-89 with a spinning drive in the lane with 2.2 seconds left. Then it was Seattle’s turn to have an apparent on Bird’s 3. But that was muted moments later when Young scored.
Seattle lost a home playoff game with Stewart healthy for the first time. The Storm were 10-0 previously. … In the 14 previous series tied at 1-1, the winner of Game 3 has gone on to win the series eight times.
Game 4 will be Tuesday night with Las Vegas looking to advance to the finals.
More WNBA playoffs: https://apnews.com/hub/wnba-playoffs and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
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