Sunday evening featured two WNBA games with similar storylines. Here’s how they played out.
Los Angeles Sparks (81) vs. Chicago Sky (72)
Although the Sky started strong and attempted a late-game comeback, their efforts weren’t enough to beat a hot Sparks team in search of its fourth straight win as Los Angeles beat Chicago on Sunday, 81-72, led by Chelsea Gray’s 21 points.
The Sky got out to a fast start, shooting 56.3 percent in the first quarter to Los Angeles’ 25 percent. In that quarter, Courtney Vandersloot completed 5 assists and Astou Ndour had 8 of the Sky’s 21 points.
But the Sparks came roaring back in the second quarter, turning in a 12-0 run on their way to a 39-33 halftime lead. Gabby Williams saw herself in early foul trouble for the Sky, picking up 2 in the first four minutes of the game and 3 in the first half.
By the third quarter, the Sparks led 61-45 and both Nneka Ogwumike and Candace Parker had notched double-doubles. Ogwumike finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Parker had 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Chicago cut the lead to single digits three times in the last two minutes of the game, but there wasn’t enough time to complete the comeback.
Jamierra Faulkner came off the bench and led the Sky in scoring with 19 points, and Cheyenne Parker was one point away from a double-double, bringing down 10 rebounds. Vandersloot finished with a game-high 7 assists, but also had a game-high 5 turnovers.
Los Angeles’ first win in their four-game streak also came against Chicago in an 18-point drubbing last Sunday. The Sky managed to cut that final deficit in half thanks to strong runs to begin and end the game, but the middle quarters saw them a point away from being doubled-up in scoring.
Chicago is now on a four-game losing streak.
Phoenix Mercury (92) vs. Las Vegas Aces (80)
Instead of halving their previous points difference as the Sparks did against the Sky, the Mercury managed to double their 6-point win from their June 10 matchup against the Aces en route to a 92-80 win Sunday night against a still very game Las Vegas team.
While Phoenix came into this game on a seven-game winning streak, the Aces were returning home from a relatively successful road trip in which they went 2-2, bringing their win total for the season up to 3 games. This determination showed early, as the Aces hung in there with the high-scoring Mercury with the first quarter ending 29-20 in Phoenix’s favor.
The Aces cut into the lead even more in the second quarter, only finding themselves down 46-42 by its end. At halftime, A’ja Wilson led the Aces with 12 points and 9 rebounds, while Diana Taurasi had 18 points and 5 assists for Phoenix.
In spite of the Aces’ early success, even tying the game at one point in the second quarter, the Mercury exploded on a 10-0 run in the third quarter, putting up 29 points to Las Vegas’ 17. Phoenix made 5 three-pointers in the quarter as part of a 68.8 percent shooting performance, while the Aces shot only 27.3 percent on 6 total made shots.
As in the above game, the Aces staged a comeback, at one point coming within 6 points with less than 3 minutes to go. But going cold on timely shooting chances and failing to pick up key defensive rebounds late in the game ended up being Vegas’ demise.
Taurasi and Brittney Griner led all scorers with 28 and 24 points, respectively, while A’ja Wilson once again led the Aces with 21 points, while Kayla McBride added 20. Griner accounted for all 6 of the Mercury’s blocks and 75 percent of all blocks for the game. The Mercury made 13 three-pointers, which was more than the 10 total attempted by the Aces.
And, of course: