On Saturday afternoon, the Las Vegas Aces and Los Angeles Sparks played to an 85-85 tie in the first and only preseason game for each team ahead of the 2021 WNBA season. Head coaches Bill Laimbeer and Derek Fisher decided to call the game after four quarters due to multiple injuries.
Most notably, Aces forward Angel McCoughtry had to be carried off the court early in the first quarter after suffering a right knee injury. On Monday, the team announced that McCoughtry has suffered a torn ACL and torn meniscus and will miss the remainder of the season.
"During the last game, I had an accident on the court," McCoughtry said in a statement. "Eerily similar to what happened to me the first time, and my results came back as a torn ACL, torn meniscus. I was heartbroken. Again. Initially, every negative thought came to my head. Then I realized ... this game has been such a blessing to me and so has God. I will conquer this challenge even better than last time. I will recover and fight my way back to the court. I still have tons of basketball to play, God has ALWAYS delivered for me ... and it's not over yet!"
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The game was not broadcasted so there's no video of the incident, but it happened as McCoughtry tried to come down with a rebound. Mirjam Swanson of the Southern California News Group was on the scene and indicated that McCoughtry was in "audible pain" after landing and was not able to put any weight on her right leg in the initial aftermath. John Davis of Winsidr added that McCoughtry returned to the bench in the second half in a wheelchair and a trainer was carrying crutches.
A six-time All-WNBA performer, McCoughtry tore multiple ligaments in her left knee while playing for the Atlanta Dream in 2018 and missed the remainder of that season and all of 2019. After signing with the Aces in free agency last offseason, the team kept her on a rather strict minutes limit to try and prevent any further injury, and she played a career-low 20 minutes per game. She was always out there when it mattered, though, and was a key factor in the Aces reaching the Finals, where they were eventually swept by the Seattle Storm.
With Liz Cambage and Kelsey Plum returning, and the addition of Chelsea Gray in free agency, almost everyone expects the Aces to get back to the Finals this season, and possibly even win their first title in franchise history. That task will be much more difficult without McCoughtry.