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Sparks snap losing streak with 98-93 OT win over the Aces

Rickea Jackson is defended by Kate Martin Friday at Arena. Ryan Sun/AP photo.
Rickea Jackson is defended by Kate Martin Friday at Arena. Ryan Sun/AP photo.

The Los Angeles Sparks quelled a rally by the Las Vegas Aces to close out a 98-93 overtime win Friday, and snap a franchise-tying record eight-game losing streak.

Dearica Hamby lead the charge against her former team, with 28 points and 14 rebounds, while Aari McDonald put up a career-high 23 points for the Sparks’ first win since June 9, when they beat the Aces.

“I’m super-proud of this group tonight,” coach Curt Miller said. “They just played with a toughness and grittiness from start to finish.”

The matchup, which featured 15 ties and 17 lead changes, began with a 7-0 Las Vegas run. Los Angeles answered with their own 7-0 run, and trailed by just 3 points to end the quarter. In the second frame, the visitors got into foul trouble, and the Sparks limited Aces star A’ja Wilson to just 2 points, while ending the period on a 9-0 run to take a 10-point advantage into the break.

The hosts picked up where they left off in the third, running up a 15-point lead. But Las Vegas got hot in the fourth, using a 7-0 run to take a 75-74 lead with 5:44 remaining. A Wilson bucket put her team up 84-82, but Los Angeles forward Stephanie Talbot’s shot, with 3 seconds to go, tied the game and forced overtime.

Talbot assisted Hamby twice, to keep the Sparks ahead, 95-90 with 24 seconds to go, but a Jackie Young trey closed the gap. Free throws by McDonald and Clarendon helped Los Angeles to put the game to bed.

Wilson lead the Aces with 35 points, 12 rebounds and 6 blocks, while Kelsey Plum had 21 points and Young, 17.

Both coach Becky Hammon and Wilson said Las Vegas’ lack of attack mentality was their main issue in the loss.

“It’s the try hard factor – they came out and wanted it more than us, essentially, and we didn’t get the job done,” Wilson said. “(Teams) want to come out and kick our (behinds)….it is what it is. We’ve got to come out the first five minutes and own it, because we’re always going to get a team’s best.”

Hammon said the second quarter was the momentum-killer for her team, as they showed poor defensive effort. In subbing out all five starters to begin the third period, Hammon said she was trying to send a message. But Las Vegas’ effort was still what she called “lackadaisical.”

“We were just soft, non-competitive,” she said.

Both teams play again Sunday, with the Sparks hosting the Mercury and the Aces hosting the Wings.