Monday, November 19, 2018
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Second Half Slump: Sparks Struggle in Loss to Wings
By Amanda Scurlock, Sports Writer
Published July 15, 2018

Sparks guard Riquna Williams averages 6.7 points per game (Emarie Marie/T.G.Sportstv1/)

The Los Angeles Sparks created a sound momentum that started in the second quarter, but it would fizzle out in the second half. Five Dallas players would score in the double-digits to help the Wings win 92-77 over the Sparks.

Sparks head coach Brian Agler mentioned how the team is not being authoritative enough.

“In the first half, we hung around and did a decent job,” Agler said. “In the second half, we sort of backed off the aggression and [Dallas] got a couple shots on us.”

Center Candace Parker led the Sparks with 21 points and seven rebounds. Wings guard Skylar Diggins-Smith scored 22 points and 11 assists, forward Glory Johnson caught seven boards.

Guard Alana Beard left the game early due to a strained groin. Both Beard and guard Sydney Wiese (left knee strain) are currently sidelined due to injury.

Dallas enforced a fast tempo and gained an early lead. Forward Nneka Ogwumike found points through a series of hook shots.

Reserves gave the Sparks a competitive push as the first quarter neared an end. After landing a three pointer, guard Riquna Williams worked hard on the defensive end by stealing from forward Azurá Stevens. Yet, Dallas gathered nine second-chance points to help them secure a 21-19 lead over the Sparks.

“I know teams are gonna start running me off the three-point line,” Williams said. “I love to penetrate and stay in space, but teams running me off the line is perfect.”

The Wings hit a 6-2 run to begin the second quarter. Dallas edged their lead to 10 points but was countered by back-to-back three-pointers by Riquna Williams. Center Maria Vadeeva entered the game to provide an answer to Cambage and brick-wall screens. Despite helping the Sparks gain their first lead of the game, Vadeeva would gather three fouls in under two regulated minutes.

“[Vadeeva] has been a great addition to this team,” said forward Essence Carson. “She’s 19 years old, but she’s holding her own here.”

Cambage, who had been jawing off at officials throughout the game, was charged with a double technical and was ejected two minutes before halftime. The 6’ 8” Australian scored 12 points and six rebounds before her exit.

“[Cambage] presents so many problems, you can’t make her, she’s agile, she can put the ball on the floor, pull up, score jump shots,” guard Alana Beard said. “She’s a pretty good player, but we just try to make it as hard as possible.”

Wings center Liz Cambage (8) trys to shoot over Sparks center Candace Parker(3) (Emarie Marie/T.G.Sportstv1/)

Free throws from Parker would give the Sparks a 50-48 lead by halftime.

“We were penetrating the lane and getting to the free throw line,” guard Chelsea Gray said. “We were able to get some stops and play in transition and get going down the hill.”

Stevens soared for Dallas, battling against the Los Angeles defense to earn 14 points in the third quarter. Diggins-Smith hit two threes, giving Dallas a six-point lead. Williams, Parker and forward Jantel Lavender would close the Sparks deficit to four points.

Williams kept the Sparks offense competitive, but shots from Johnson, Cayla George, and Diggins-Smith would expand their lead. The Sparks went scoreless for four regulated minutes, the Wings had a 10-point run during that time.

Los Angeles only scored 12 points after shooting 5 of 16 from the field. The Sparks will battle against their former teammate Cappie Pondexter and the Indiana Fever on Friday, July 20 at 7:30 P.M.

“We still have a lot more of this season left,” Williams said. “We can’t get discouraged.”

Categories: Basketball | Sports
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