Dearica Hamby and Rickea Jackson shine as Sparks defeat A'ja Wilson and Aces

A relentless defense and big performances off the bench led the Sparks to a 96-92 win over the Las Vegas Aces in a Commissioner’s Cup game Sunday night at Arena.

Dearica Hamby led the Sparks with 18 points, five assists and 10 rebounds for her ninth double-double of the season. Rookie Rickea Jackson had 16 points and five rebounds, and Aari McDonald finished with 16 points. Cameron Brink had a career-high five blocks along with eight points. The Sparks shot 32 for 65 from the field and 22 for 26 from the free-throw line.

The Sparks’ defense held the Aces to 30-for-48 shooting and 11 of 26 from three-point range. Kelsey Plum had 24 points, five assists and two rebounds while A’ja Wilson finished with 31 points, five assists and eight rebounds.

Las Vegas started aggressive, going on a 14-0 run, with five points from Wilson before Hamby ended the run with a layup.

Despite Plum and Wilson dominating the paint, the Sparks started chipping away at the Aces’ lead, eventually closing to within five by the end of the first quarter. The Sparks’ bench made an immediate impact, scoring 14 points in the first quarter and adding six more before halftime.

The Sparks got off to a fast start in the second quarter, with Brown shooting a three-pointer and Jackson making a two-point shot to give the Sparks their first lead. Las Vegas retook the lead, but a layup by Hamby with 17 seconds made it a one-point game at halftime.

Despite strong performances from Wilson and Kate Martin, who put up 16 and 11 points in the first half, respectively, for Las Vegas, the Sparks’ defense held Plum scoreless the entire first half and limited the Aces to 15-for-33 shooting.

The Sparks didn’t lose momentum in the second half, scoring 52 points. They extended their lead to 10 points and the Aces fell into foul trouble, with coach Becky Hammon being called for a technical.

Las Vegas surged in the fourth quarter and took the lead on a three-pointer by Plum. However, Rae Burrell and McDonald helped orchestrate an 8-0 run to put the Sparks back ahead. With two minutes left and the crowd bumping, the Sparks increased the lead. A three-pointer by Alysha Clark with one second left made it a two-point game, but a foul on Plum coupled with two successful McDonald free throws sealed the game.

The Sparks will begin a seven-game trip Tuesday against the Seattle Storm at 7 p.m. PDT.

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