Sparks Fall to Aces

Playing in front of NBA stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Damian Lillard, and Quinn Cook at the Los Angeles Convention Center, the Los Angeles Sparks fell to the Las Vegas Aces for the second time this season, 99-75.

The Aces capitalized on a late first quarter Sparks scoring drought with 10 unanswered points to build up a nine-point advantage heading into the second quarter. In the first quarter, the Aces utilized a well distributed scoring attack led by Jackie Young, who scored 11 points on a perfect 5-for-5 shooting. Amanda Zahui B. carried the Sparks in the first 10 minutes, scoring 14 of LA’s 19 points.

Las Vegas blew things open in the second quarter, answering an Arella Guirantes bucket with an 11- point run to open up a 39-21 lead with just over five minutes to go before the half. From there, the Aces and Sparks traded baskets until halftime, with Las Vegas carrying a 56-37 lead into the break.

In the first half, the Aces outshot the Sparks from the field 47.7% to 34.1% and outrebounded them 30- 20. Zahui B. led all players in scoring with 18 points. She also reeled in five rebounds, tied with Nia Coffey for a first-half team high. Leading the way for the Aces in the first half were Liz Cambage and Jackie Young, who each scored 11 points. Cambage also added six rebounds and two blocks in the first half. Meanwhile, Riquna Williams recorded an impressive nine points and seven assists for the Aces in the game’s first 20 minutes.

The third quarter resembled the last five minutes of the second quarter, as Las Vegas’ lead hovered between 16 and 21 points throughout, winding up at 80-59 by the time the quarter ended following three straight Aces possessions in which Kelsey Plum scored. A’ja Wilson led her team with eight points in the quarter. Meanwhile, Erica Wheeler led the Sparks with six third-quarter points.

Both teams struggled to find the basket early in the final period with a combined 11 points being scored in the quarter’s first five minutes. Though the scoring picked up as the game wound down, the Sparks were unable to draw any closer. Nonetheless, Te’a Cooper shined down the stretch for LA, putting up nine points in the contest’s final five minutes.

When the final buzzer sounded, the Aces had outshot the Sparks 45.7% to 34.1% from the field and gathered 55 rebounds to LA’s 39. Additionally, Las Vegas hit 18 of its 19 free throw attempts while Los Angeles hit 12 of 17. Meanwhile, the Aces bench outscored the Sparks bench 31-14.

Despite losing by a significant margin, a number of Sparks had strong individual performances. Amanda Zahui B. led all scorers with a season-high 22 points and came up just shy of a double-double with a team-high nine rebounds. Also scoring in double-figures for Los Angeles were Te’a Cooper (15), Erica Wheeler (13), and Brittney Sykes (11). Cooper and Sykes snagged six rebounds each. Meanwhile, former No. 3 overall pick Lauren Cox came off the bench to score her first points as a Spark. After the game, Head Coach/General Manager Derek Fisher acknowledged Cox’s efforts. “We know that it was a lot to get here, flying, showing up to a game she’s never been to, meeting new people she’s never met before. But we thought she did a really admirable job.”

The Aces saw six players reach double-digit points: Jackie Young (18), A’ja Wilson (17), Riquna Williams (14), Liz Cambage (13), Dearica Hamby (13), and Kelsey Plum (11). Not only did Young lead Las Vegas in points, but she also led the Aces in steals with three. In addition, she recorded five rebounds and five assists. Wilson and Cambage each notched double doubles, with 10 and 11 rebounds, respectively. Williams finished two rebounds short of a double-double. Plum supplemented her 11 points with seven assists and six rebounds. Chelsea Gray led the team with 8 assists.

Though the game did not pan out the way he wanted, Coach Fisher was pleased with the support from NBA players at the game. “When they support something, and they put a stamp on something, they validate something. I think other people around the world tend to pay close attention. So we welcome them here in LA anytime.”

The loss dropped the Sparks to 6-9 and improved the Aces to 12-4. The Sparks will now attempt to regroup before taking on the Aces again on Friday, July 2 on CBS Sports Network and Spectrum SportsNet.