The final game of the WNBA Playoffs’ second round was mayhem until the final ticks. With nine seconds to play, Las Vegas Aces forward Dearica Hamby intercepted Chicago Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot’s pass with her team down, 92-90. Not only was the fate of a hard-fought 40 minutes at stake, but so was an entire season’s worth of work. The game was win-or-go-home, and the No. 4 seed Aces needed a bucket.
Off the rip, Hamby took one dribble and two additional steps. Her teammate Sydney Colson was wide open under the hoop, and could’ve scored the game-tying bucket. But Hamby had a J.R. Smith-esque blunder and misread the shot clock. Off the second step, she launched from feet inside the half-court line with 7.5 seconds remaining to heave a prayer.
That was the game-winner. That’s how the Las Vegas Aces advanced.
The Sky’s Astou Ndour missed the game’s final shot wide left, leaving Hamby’s accidental half-court heave as the most foolishly heroic make in recent memory. The Aces are in the semifinals set to play against the No. 1 seed Washington Mystics.
Let’s review the most incredible parts of this madness:
1. Dearica Hamby is really good at half-court shots. This wasn’t a total accident
Half-court shots aren’t a high percentage look for anyone, but Hamby’s one of the Aces’ best at them. The day before, she did this:
Who knew she was practicing a real-life situation?
Head coach Bill Laimbeer actually has players shoot halfcourt shots for a small cash prize after each shootaround.
Laimbeer often ends pregame shootarounds with a cash prize for any player who knocks down a half-court shot. It’s their way of earning back the $10 he charges those who forget their practice jersey. The morning before the team’s game against the Storm, [Kayla] McBride, a repeat offender, is ready to redeem herself and win the $80 jackpot.
With a serious face, she turns on the jets, runs, and launches from the center of the court. The bank was open. “I got my money back!” she yells, pumping her fist. Moments later, Hamby knocks down the same shot. “Shit. Every time,” McBride says with her hands over her face. They split it, $40 each.
Looks like that move paid off.
2. These guys’ faces on national TV
Sirs, I understand.
3. Hamby’s immediate reverse surrender cobra
She actually shocked herself. She nearly made the worst mistake of her professional life, then turned it into her best.
4. Courtney Vandersloot’s untimely mistake
Vandersloot is one of the more sure-handed passers in WNBA history, destined for the Hall of Fame. Yet she not only threw the game-sealing turnover, she missed fouling Hamby before the shot:
This was a costly mistake, but Vandersloot had a great playoffs, with more appearances to come.
5. Diamond DeShields’ look of shock
6. Kayla McBride’s surrender cobra
The most popular way to react in all of sports.
7. A’ja Wilson’s look of pure shock
This was the Aces star’s first-ever playoff game, and she’s seen the most.
8. Hamby brought her daughter to the game. And she saw it all.
9. Hamby’s post-interview reaction
You can understand what she said, but I can’t type it.
10. The Shot produced the purest picture of Bill Laimbeer ever taken