Former Iowa teammates Caitlin Clark and Kate Martin shared the court once again on Saturday, this time as professionals.

It was Martin’s Aces that got the 99-80 win over Clark’s Fever in Las Vegas. The pair's former coaches Lisa Bluder, Jan Jensen, Jenni Fitzgerald, and Raina Harmon were all in attendance to watch their Hawkeyes — Clark, Martin, and former national player of the year Megan Gustafson — take the court.

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"It’s super special. It’s cool for our program, cool for Lisa, for Coach Jan, for all of them," Clark said in a pregame press conference. "They’ve known me since I’ve been 13 years old and now I’m 22 getting to live out my dream and they’ve been a huge part of that and helping me get here and helping Megan and Kate to get here too. It’s a great moment for them and I’m sure they’re not complaining about a trip to Vegas."

As for her college teammate, Clark had nothing but good things to say ahead of the showdown. 

"I’m just really happy for her and everything Coach [Becky] Hammon says about her is so true," she said. "Every person that played at Iowa and was around her knows that to be true. She’s the ultimate teammate, ultimate person, ultimate leader."

In the end, Martin stole the show with 12 points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes, while Clark amassed eight points, seven assists, and five rebounds over 29 minutes of playing time. 

"It was weird," Martin admitted after the game. "I'm not going to lie — just looking out on the court and seeing her in a different jersey than me, it was obviously different. But it's really fun. We're both living out our dreams right now."

The Aces next meet the fever on July 2nd at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas Aces celebrated their second-straight WNBA title on Tuesday with a banner raising and championship ring ceremony — as well as a pregame pep talk from NFL legend Tom Brady

It all unfolded before the Aces took on the Mercury in front of a sellout home crowd at Michelob Ultra Arena. 

Included in the ring design is the team’s 2023 motto, "Aces vs. Everybody," as well as 34 diamonds encrusting the team’s name to commemorate their league-record 34 regular season wins. It also features two trophies, signifying the back-to-back titles, with the trophy bases forming a reference to the franchise’s 14 playoff appearances. 

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"We're back," team owner Mark Davis announced during Tuesday's celebration. "Not only are we back, we're back-to-back world champions. All I can say is let's three-peat."

"We're so grateful to have a fan base that is supportive of us," two-time MVP A’ja Wilson told fans. "We're blessed to be in this situation. We worked our butts off to get to this point, so we just want to say thank you."

Brady’s attendance was a surprise for the players, with coach Becky Hammon saying she purposely didn’t tell players beforehand that the Aces minority owner would be visiting.

"I thought it would be cool to bring a sports figure in who's not only invested in our team, but also knows a few things about winning," Hammon said, smiling. "Just let him have the floor. He's somebody who has sat where they've sat — chasing history and trying to be the greatest.

"Those things don't just happen. You really have to be intentional about your work, your approach... And about winning the moments. We're certainly happy that he came and shared some of his knowledge and passion and really love for women's sports."

Brady shared a special message with the team ahead of the game, with Wilson adding a bit of insight after the final buzzer. The 2023 Finals MVP led the team with 30 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists in the Aces' 89-80 win over the Mercury.

"He was saying, 'The banners are always going to be there, so you don't have to try to defend that. Just go do what you've been doing,'" Wilson said. "That message made the night for me. Because I feel like we get so caught up in, 'Oh, my God, we've got to three-peat.' 

“But that banner is going to be there forever. My ring is going to be in the trophy case forever. Let me focus on getting better, and then that's when everything else flows."

And as for the ring?

"The ring is nice... It's huge," Wilson said. "I was not expecting that. It's like diamonds all the way around — bling, bling, bling, bling, bling."

The Las Vegas Aces took to the White House yet again on Thursday to celebrate their 2023 WNBA championship victory

The decorated team was hosted by President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and First Lady Jill Biden, marking the first time the Bidens have welcomed the team personally.

Last year, Harris hosted the Aces after the Bidens were unable to attend due to a last minute conflict. Harris applauded the team for their 2022 win, pointing to the "grit and determination" they showcased en route to their WNBA Finals win over Connecticut. 

The Aces won back-to-back championships in 2023, becoming the first WNBA franchise to repeat the feat since 2002. More impressively, they did so without 2022 Finals MVP Chelsea Gray and center Kiah Stokes, both of whom were sidelined with injuries for the title-clinching Game 4. Star forward A’ja Wilson ended up claiming the 2023 Finals MVP honors.

Following the team’s White House visit, the Aces will visit Wilson’s alma mater South Carolina for an exhibition game against the Puerto Rico women's national basketball team. According to head coach Becky Hammon, the unconventional matchup came about when other WNBA teams lacked interest in facing the reigning champs in preseason play.

"We just started kind of building from there," Hammon told the Las Vegas Review Journal. "It’s really cool for players to go home, and that’s where she’s from. She’s the centerpiece of our whole organization."

Kelsey Plum jokingly called Wilson the "mayor of South Carolina" before citing the trip as an opportunity to build team chemistry ahead of their season opener against Phoenix on Tuesday.

"We have some new pieces, and we’re just trying to figure out where our rhythm is," Plum said, referring to recent roster prospects like Iowa grad Kate Martin, among others. "Because when the season starts, it happens fast."

For the Chicago Sky and the Las Vegas Aces Aces, Tuesday’s Commissioner’s Cup championship was an opportunity to secure bonuses for themselves and a donation for their selected charities. But for WNBA fans, it was a chance to see the two teams that are most likely to face off in the Finals play under heightened pressure.

Las Vegas came away with a 93-83 win, and Chelsea Gray secured the MVP trophy thanks to her 19 points, five assists and five rebounds.

Here’s what to take away from the contest, and what it means for the postseason:

Slow start dooms Sky

The last time the Sky played the Aces, they pulled off the biggest comeback in WNBA history, topping Las Vegas 104-95 after being down by 25 points. It was monumental, but not a deficit the Sky wanted to repeat. Going into Tuesday’s game, Candace Parker said the Sky were focused on playing a full 40 minutes. They didn’t do that.

The Aces opened Tuesday’s game on a 13-0 run. The Sky, despite outscoring Las Vegas in the remaining three periods, couldn’t make another comeback.

“We’ve faced adversity,” Parker said. “I’m not worried about our team when we face adversity. I’m worried about us getting into adversity. We’ve had some slow starts against this team and had to claw our way out. So I think it’s more so not facing adversity; I think we’re built for that. But it’s not getting ourselves into it.”

The Sky have started slowly in all three contests against Las Vegas, a pattern they will need to remedy for the postseason. The Aces are too talented to be given an advantage, and if Chicago didn’t allow them to put up 33 first-quarter points, it could have been a different game.

Stars show out for Aces, with Gray leading the way

A’ja Wilson, Chelsea Gray and Kelsey Plum came ready to play on Tuesday, as reflected in their stat lines.

Wilson finished with 17 points, 17 rebounds and six blocks; Plum had 24 points on six 3-pointers and six assists; and Gray’s performance earned her the MVP trophy. When all three play at an elite level, it’s near impossible to stop the Aces. With Wilson dominating the paint, Gray driving and creating, and Plum knocking down 3-pointers, Las Vegas won at every spot on the court. Their well-rounded offense gave the Sky fits, and every time Chicago started a comeback, the Aces had an answer somewhere on the court.

As the point guard, Gray led the way. There’s a reason the Aces are always able to find the right spot on the court for a scoring opportunity. It’s because Gray knows where to direct the offense, how to find the right player, and what the Aces need at any given time.

“That’s the MVP tonight, but she has been leading our team the whole season,” Plum said. “I feel like, to be honest, she doesn’t get the love and credit she deserves, and I’m really, really glad that people saw that tonight.”

Defense makes difference

The Aces are known for their high-powered offense, leading the league with 90.4 points per game. But with all the hype surrounding their scoring abilities, it can be easy to forget that Las Vegas can defend.

Wilson led the way with her six blocks, making it difficult for the Sky to get in the lane. The Sky scored 83 points, just a bit under their average of 85.6 a game, but the Aces kept them uncomfortable throughout the contest, holding them to 40 percent shooting from the field and just 20 percent from the 3-point line. Chicago couldn’t get in a rhythm, and that stopped them from completing the comeback.

“It’s a mindset,” Wilson said. “It’s a heart decision. Defense doesn’t take a lot. You don’t have to be necessarily talented to play defense. You just have to want it.”

That type of intensity is something Wilson wants to see from her squad the rest of the season, a trend that would bode well for their WNBA title chances.

“I was telling KP, ‘This doesn’t have to be just a Commissioner’s Cup game,'” she said. “This could be an every-game thing for us. But it’s just a shift of the mindset.”

Vandersloot will be better

After sitting out four games for concussion protocol, Vandersloot made her return against the Aces, but she clearly wasn’t in top form. The point guard finished with eight points and four assists in 22 minutes of play.

The Sky managed to win three of four games in Vanderlsoot’s absence, but they need her on the court in the long run. She didn’t look like herself against the Aces, but expect that to change the next time the teams meet in the second-to-last regular season game on Aug. 11. Las Vegas can’t count on her underperforming due to injury again.

Consistency is key

Las Vegas and Chicago are the two top teams in the WNBA, so when they play, the winner will be the squad that does everything right. Chicago made too many mistakes on Tuesday, while the Aces remained consistent throughout the game. Playing at a high level for 40 minutes is an obvious key to victory, but these teams are talented enough to take a few minutes, even full quarters off, against other opponents and still pull off a victory.

Against the other top team in the league, that isn’t possible. The Aces proved that, with their dominant first quarter sealing the victory.

“Early on, I feel like we were very passive,” Parker said. “Credit to them — they came out and threw the first punch. But for us to get down 33-14 in the first quarter, I don’t know what it was, 14-0 or something, I don’t know, but that’s not the way we wanted to come out and play.”

Chicago outscored the Aces 69-60 the rest of the way, but Las Vegas’ steadiness won out.

Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.