Riquna Williams 37 Points Not Enough as Sparks Fall to Aces

LAS VEGAS –The Sparks led through the first three quarters, but could not overcome a 34-point fourth quarter from the Aces, falling 92-86 in Las Vegas. Riquna Williams exploded for a season-high 37 points, tying her franchise record with seven 3-pointers made. But Nneka Ogwumike had to sit out the second half with an illness and the Sparks defense ultimately could not hold onto their lead as five Aces scored in double-figures led by A’ja Wilson with 24 points and 12 rebounds and Kelsey Plum with 20 points, 17 of them coming in the fourth quarter.

Chelsea Gray scored the first basket of the game and Riquna Williams’ second 3-pointer gave the Sparks a 12-6 lead. A Chelsea Gray 3-point play put the Sparks up 15-9. Williams heated up, hitting four 3-pointers in the first quarter including a near buzzer-beater to give the Sparks a 23-16 lead after one.

Williams added a fifth 3-pointer to start the second quarter and give the Sparks a 26-16 lead, but the Aces went on an 8-0 run to force a timeout from head coach Derek Fisher. Williams came right out and hit her sixth 3-pointer and then got fouled on another attempt, draining all 3 free throws to give the Sparks a 34-24 lead. The Sparks continued to hold their lead as Gray and Nneka Ogwumike created offense through the pick and roll, helping the Sparks go up 41-30 with 1:48 left in the first half. The Sparks took a 44-36 lead into halftime.

Kalani Brown scored the first basket of the second half, starting in the place of Nneka Ogwumike who did not return after halftime due to an illness. Candace Parker hit two 3-pointers to give the Sparks a 54-43 lead. Parker reached double-figures for the 10thtime this season scoring 10 points in the third quarter. Brown scored six points in the quarter in place Ogwumike, giving the Sparks a 63-52 lead with 2:26 left in the period.The Aces cut the Sparks lead to 66-58 heading into the fourth.

Kayla McBride hit the first basket of the fourth quarter and the Aces started on an 6-0 run to cut the Sparks lead to 66-65. A McBride 3-pointer tied the game a 70 and the Aces took their first lead of the game on a Plum jumper at 72-70. The Aces tacked on nine more points to take an 81-72 lead with 4:32 remaining. Williams seventh 3-pointer, tying her own franchise record, cut it to 84-77, but the Sparks could not stop Kelsey Plum in transition. The Sparks cut it to 90-86, but could not get any closer.