Sparks fall short in a hard-fought battle against the Mercury

Los Angeles, CA – Coming off a big win against back-to-back WNBA champions, the Las
Vegas Aces, the Los Angeles Sparks struggle to remain consistent and suffer a loss against
the Phoenix Mercury.

WNBA All-Star Dearica Hamby was the leading scorer for the Sparks last night with a
team-high of 25 points and nine rebounds. Sparks rookie Rickea Jackson added 22 points
and six rebounds to help the team in this close-knit game. Natasha Cloud and Kahleah
Copper had an unstoppable performance, which secured the 84-78 win. Cloud put up
career-high numbers, recording 31 points and nine rebounds, going over 50% from three.
Copper was right behind her with 25 points and 10 rebounds but greatly struggled from
long range, going 0-5 from three.

The first quarter was a back-and-forth matchup between both teams. Hamby and Cloud
began the game-long battle with consistent scoring. Hamby and Jackson connected for a
quick layup while Cloud answered from behind the arc with three three-point shots.

Jackson showed her strength with an and-one play and a nailed free throw. Sparks guard
Aari McDonald navigated her way through the defense for a tough floater. Cloud finished
the quarter with 13 points, nine of them from three. Hamby added six points and four
rebounds, displaying her dominance down low. The Sparks trailed 15-25 as the first quarter

The Sparks entered the second quarter with high momentum and game-shifting energy,
going on a six-point run. Hamby showed her undeniable power down low with strong
finishes and secured rebounds. Azurá Stevens made a quick impact on the court with an
anticipated steal, leading her to an open-floor layup, forcing the Mercury into a timeout.

“Her length is a factor,” said Coach Miller about Stevens’ return. “She gives us another
offensive weapon. She can help space the floor. We got to be patient with her.”

The Mercury made defensive adjustments to cool off the Sparks with high wing traps.
Copper drove down the lane for a quick and easy layup. Jackson extended her range
outside the key with a corner three, and Layshia Clarendon came down the right for two as
the Sparks kept their energy high. Brittney Griner and Cloud connected for high-low action,
while Copper’s quickness continued to get her to the basket for easy baskets. Zia Cooke
added a three for the Sparks. Stevens sealed the quarter with a one-leg fadeaway jumper,
cutting the score to 39-42.


Hamby and Jackson took control of the third quarter. Hamby added an easy layup, while
Jackson continued to show her versatility inside and outside the key. On the other end,
Copper maneuvered through traffic for a left-handed layup. Jackson muscled her way to
the basket with another and-one layup and a quick two from Rae Burrell. Returning from
timeout, Sophia Cunningham came out firing from three, but Jackson made it her show to
end the third. She hit a three-pointer from the top of the key and a smooth two through
traffic, closing the gap to two points as the quarter ended with a 63-65 score.
“[The mentality was] being aggressive,” Jackson said. “Phoenix is a physical team. You let
them hit you first, they’re going to try and punk you the whole game, so I knew I had to be
physical back.”

The fourth quarter was a strong battle for both teams. Cooke hit a mid-range jumper to tie
the score, but Cloud matched that. Clarendon found Stevens for two, and Hamby added a
deep three, giving the Sparks their first lead since the first quarter. The Sparks’ defense was
unable to stop Cloud’s high-scoring abilities as she hit another one from three. KiKi Herbert
added three to put the Mercury up, 78-76, with two minutes left. From that moment, the
game belonged to the Mercury. Cloud and Copper nailed clutch free throws, securing the
78-84 win against the Sparks.

The Sparks will play the Minnesota Lynx at home, Tuesday, July 9, with hopes of execution
to record a win.