Sparks Defense Shines in 66-58 Loss to Aces

The Los Angeles Sparks defense held the first-place Aces to just 66 points, but fell short 66-58. The Sparks were taking on the Aces for the third and final time this season and for the second time in two days at the LA Convention Center. The Sparks were led by 14 points from Erica Wheeler and 14 points and 12 rebounds from Amanda Zahui B., who recorded her second double-double of the season.

To kick off the 1st quarter, Chelsea Gray made a pullup jump shot, but Te’a Cooper responded with a 25-foot three point jumper. Both teams started the game off strong on both ends of the court, only keeping a three to four point difference in points throughout the quarter. The Sparks were still short-handed without Nneka Ogwumike (left knee), Chiney Ogwumike (right knee), and Kristi Toliver (eye). As Aces Guard Kelsey Plum went for a two point shot, Sparks Forward Nia Coffey had an emphatic block and Eric Wheeler responded with an assist to Bria Holmes who was able to respond with a layup. The Sparks ended the quarter down by four, 17-13, holding the Aces to just 33.3% from the field. Lauren Cox scored four points and grabbed two rebounds in the first quarter in her second game on the Sparks.

The Sparks kept their energy high coming into the second quarter, catching up to the Aces in the first two minutes. However, 2020 WNBA Most Valuable Player A’ja Wilson scored back-to-back layups followed by a layup from Dearica Hamby that helped give the Aces a 10 point lead. Te’a Cooper was able to put two more Sparks on the board with a driving layup ending the quarter 38- 30.

In the third quarter, the Aces kept a tight defense and the ball moving on offense. However, the Sparks were able to close the gap to single digits. Bria Holmes came into the game and instantly stole the ball, throwing it to Amanda Zahui B. giving her the opportunity to make a 25-foot three point jumper. Which pushed her into double digits and her 8th career double-double, her second of the season.

With six minutes left in the fourth quarter, Te’a Cooper made a 26-foot three point jumper that pulled the Sparks to within three. Amanda Zahui B. responded with a layup cutting it to 54-53 Aces. The Sparks continued their run taking a 56-54 lead. However, the Aces, powered by A’ja Wilson getting to the free-throw line, ended the game on a 12-2 run to give them the 66-58 win. -The Los Angeles Sparks will take on the Seattle Storm for the first time this season on July 4 at 6 p.m. PT at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Spectrum SportsNet and NBA TV.