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 and six rebounds. 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-68 shooting and 11 of 26 from three-point range. Kelsey Plum had 24 points, five assists and two rebounds while two-time WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson finished with 31 points, eight rebounds, six blocked shots, five assists and two steals.

Las Vegas started aggressive, going on a 14-0 run before the Sparks scored a point, with five points from Wilson before Hamby ended the run with a layup 3:12 into the game.

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 at 26-21. The Sparks’ bench made an immediate impact, scoring 14 points in the first quarter and adding six more before halftime.

The Sparks bounced back in the second quarter, with McDonald and Brown making three-pointers and Jackson making a two-point shot to give the Sparks their first lead with 6:21 left in the half. Las Vegas retook the lead at 44-41 on a Kate Martin three, but a layup by Hamby with 17 seconds left made it 44-43 at halftime.

Despite strong performances from Wilson and Martin, who put up 16 and 11 points in the first half, respectively, for Las Vegas, the Sparks’ defense held Plum scoreless in the first 20 minutes 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 foul with nine seconds left in the third quarter. Hammon was called for another technical with 23 seconds left and was ejected.

Las Vegas surged in the fourth quarter and took the lead on a three-pointer by Plum with 4:42 left. After two free throws by Plum gave the Aces a four-point lead, Jackson (driving layup) and Rae Burrell (two three-pointers) 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 Las Vegas’ Alysha Clark with one second left made it a two-point game, but after McDonald was fouled by Plum, McDonald’s two free throws sealed the victory.

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

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