Sparks Run Out of Gas in Las Vegas

Las Vegas (June 28, 2018) – On the second night of a back-to-back, the Los Angeles Sparks went into the Mandalay Bay Events Center for the first time in history and fell to the Las Vegas Aces, 94-78. The Sparks were coming off a difficult loss to the Seattle Storm Thursday night and were down to nine active players with Nneka Ogwumike and Sydney Wiese sidelined with back and knee injuries, respectively.

Alana Beard scored on the first play on a backdoor cut and Candace Parker got a steal on Los Angeles’ first defensive possession. A Jantel Lavender short corner jumper forced Aces coach Bill Laimbeer to call timeout with Los Angeles up 10-2. But the Sparks went cold for the rest of the quarter, and a Dearica Hamby 3-pointer and free throw, followed by a Kayla McBride triple gave the Aces their first lead at 16-15, part of a 14-5 run. The Aces led 18-15 after the first quarter.

The Aces started the second quarter on a 7-3 run as Lindsay Allen scored five of the seven, but Essence Carson responded with a 3-pointer. She scored eight points in the first half and a season high 17 points. A Candace Parker three from the corner pulled the Sparks within one at 32-31. The Sparks had a few chances to take the lead but could not get over the hump and a Kelsey Plum 3-pointer put the Aces up 40-34. Las Vegas took a 44-37 lead into the break.

The Aces started the second half on a 5-0 run as McBride and Plum hit jumpers forcing Sparks coach Brian Agler to call timeout. Chelsea Gray responded with an immediate 3-pointer out of the timeout, her fourth of the game. The Aces responded with a 6-0 run sparked by A’ja Wilson to take their biggest lead of the game, 55-40.

Las Vegas continued to impose their will, but the Sparks 3-point shooting kept them within striking distance. Los Angeles made a season high 13 triples. An Odyssey Sims 3-pointer, her third of the game cut the lead to 71-62, but the Aces responded with a quick bucket and took a 73-62 lead into the fourth.

The Sparks cut the lead to seven, but a Plum leaner put the Aces up 80-68 with 5:57 remaining. Back to back turnovers from the Sparks extended the Las Vegas lead to 16. Maria Vadeeva, who scored a career high 10 points helped the Sparks make a late push, but it was too little too late.