Sparks fall short against Wings despite Brink’s career game

Jordon Kelly-The Sporting Tribune
The Sparks are now 1-4 after their loss to the Dallas Wings despite Cameron Brink having the first 20-point game of her WNBA career.

LOS ANGELES — Cameron Brink had her first 20-point game of her young WNBA career.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to push the Sparks (1-4) over the Wings (3-2). Dallas made the necessary plays as they edged out Los Angeles, 84-83.

The Sparks were down by as many as 12 points, 66-54, in the third period. However, Los Angeles was able to go on a 15-4 burst in the fourth quarter while playing a line-up that included Dearica Hamby, Li Yueru, Stephanie Talbot, Zia Cooke, and Aari McDonald.

Monique Billings, who was cut by the Sparks before the season started, made a big shot and some free throws down the stretch. Then Maddy Siegrist made a lay-up to give the Wings an 83-80 lead. Brink missed a corner three that would’ve tied the game.

Arike Ogunbowale split her foul shots. Lexie Brown made a three to cut the deficit down to 84-83 but it was too little, too late as time ran out in the ensuing possession.

Coach Curt Miller talked about the disappointment of the loss here:

“Yeah, we thought we had a few empty possessions,” Miller answered about closing out the game. “Maybe not exactly the shots we wanted.

“We have to score down the stretch against that team. And there’s not a better closer in our league than Arike (Ogunbowale).”

Miller brought up the lack of rebounding by the Sparks.

“Their differentiator is their offensive rebounding opportunities. They are just so big and physical around the rim. That big offensive rebound putback by Maddy Siegrist was maybe the difference down the stretch. We didn’t have an offensive rebound in the second half. Not one.”

Part of that bench that helped the Sparks rally was Li Yueru, who had 10 points and 9 rebounds.

“Love Li’s ability to match up with their size and physicality,” Miller said. “I love that she was hunting offense. She’ll be the first to tell you with her near double-double, she missed some shots in the first half. And she didn’t get down.”

Cameron Brink scored a career-best 21 points against the Wings. She talked about her comfort level at the perimeter.

“It just kinda felt like every other game. I think I just took shots that were open,” Brink said. “Obviously, didn’t end it the way we wanted to so it didn’t feel great. But just motivation for the next game.”

Aari McDonald (11 points) was asked about the growth of her first and second-year teammates which include Brink and Rickea Jackson.

“They’ve grown tremendously. We just had our fifth game,” McDonald answered. “They are working their butts off every day. They’re willing learners and I’m also learning from them, being new to the team. I’m just proud of them and they’re helping me thus far so I appreciate that.”

Brink got her fourth foul early in the third but was kept in the game. She was asked about playing with foul trouble.

“That’s just something I need to continue to adjust with,” Brink said. “Coaches and my teammates are giving me grace so I’m just going to work through it.

“There were a lot of fouls that didn’t go our way. I think there was one foul where I was just completely tackled, blindsided out of nowhere. So that led to a frustration foul on my end so that’s where maturity comes in.”

As mentioned earlier, Brink finished with 21 points. Dearica Hamby had a big second half to finish with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Lexie Brown took more point guard duties after Layshia Clarendon left with a head injury; she finished with 12 points and six assists.

The Wings were led by Arike Ogunbowale with 20 points but she took 30 shots to get there. Monique Billings got revenge on the Sparks with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Maddy Siegrist had 15 points.

For the next three games, the Sparks will be on the road. First stop on this voyage? A rematch with Caitlin Clark and the Indiana Fever.

The Sporting Tribune’s Fredo Cervantes contributed to this report.