Los Angeles Sparks fall to Las Vegas Aces in season opener

Despite a good first quarter and a career-high, the Los Angeles Sparks fell to the Las Vegas Aces. 


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Los Angeles Sparks center Maria Vadeeva driving the ball against Las Vegas Aces forward A’ja Wilson. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images )

Los Angeles could not get over the hump in their 13-point loss to the Las Vegas Aces 83-70 in Sunday’s contest at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Maria Vadeeva led the Sparks scorers with a career-high 24 points, five rebounds, and one assist. Nneka Ogwumike followed up with 17 points and 11 rebounds.

It was a hot start for the Sparks in the first quarter as they opened the game with a 4-0 run. The pace and production were all there from Los Angeles as they had a great showing in the first quarter.

Vadeeva’s productive night started early in the first quarter as she scored the first points of the game for the Sparks. Her scoring throughout the quarter and the rest of the game was a bright spot for Los Angeles.

Vadeeva scored six points in the first quarter and that was just the start of a career night for the second year player.

Los Angeles utilized their bench early in the game as 10 players got time on the floor throughout the first quarter. Players like Kalani Brown, Chiney Ogwumike, Alexis Jones, and Marina Mabrey were able to get in the game early to help the Sparks stay within the game when the Aces were in the midst of a run.

The last lead that the Sparks had in the first quarter was at the 4:04 mark of the quarter when Chiney Ogwumike scored on a cutting lay-up to give Los Angeles a 19-15 lead over the Aces.

After that, the Aces went on a 12-4 during the final minutes of the quarter to take the reigns and lead 27-23.

A Riquna Williams shot at the buzzer could have made it a one-point game to end the first quarter, but the shot did not count as Williams still had possession of the ball when the buzzer lights were on.

Los Angeles shot 55.6 percent from the field in the first quarter.

Following that decent showing by the Sparks in the first quarter, the offense started to look lackluster as the rest of the game went on.

Las Vegas opened the second quarter with a 7-0 run to extend their lead to 11, 34-23. The Aces also held the Sparks to just eight points in the second quarter.

The offense for Los Angeles was stagnant throughout the second quarter and beyond as there was not a consistent groove for them that stuck. Despite the Sparks not getting shots to fall offensively, they were still able to have a good defensive presence in the game.

Following half time, the Sparks picked it up a bit on offense, scoring 18 points in the third quarter, but it still was not enough to find themselves back within the game.

Vadeeva scored a three-pointer that brought the Sparks within single-digits at 49-40 with about eight minutes to go in the third quarter. Despite efforts from Vadeeva at that point of the quarter and Chelsea Gray’s pull up jump shot with 5:16 left to make it 57-46, the Aces kept pulling away to extend their lead.

The Aces led by 16 points to end the third quarter and it was not looking good for the Sparks the rest of the way.

Without the presence of Candace Parker (hamstring injury) for the Sparks in this contest, Los Angeles needed someone to step up and be efficient. This was a standout game for Vadeeva to open the season and give the Sparks some well-needed scoring.

Vadeeva’s big night just was not enough to get it done for the Sparks. Los Angeles finished the game with a 36.4 shooting percentage from the field despite having a better showing in the first quarter.

In their WNBA regular season debuts, Brown had four points and five rebounds, while Mabrey scored six points on 2-3 three-pointers. Gray finished the game with eight points, two rebounds, and four assists.

Los Angeles opens their season 0-1 and will look to bounce back in their season opener against the Connecticut Sun on Friday at 7:30 p.m. PT.

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