LOS ANGELES — The Sparks (13-23) ended their disappointing season with a 116-88 blowout loss against the Dallas Wings (18-18) on Sunday at Crypto.com Arena.
Sparks guard Brittney Sykes finished with a career-high 35 points in 36 minutes. Sykes scored 11 of her 14 first-half points in the first quarter. The Sparks were only down 25-20 after the first quarter.
However, the Sparks trailed 66-29 at halftime, as Dallas went on a blistering 41-9 run in the second quarter.
Dallas shot 74.2% from the field and 63.6% from 3 in the first half, as reserve guard Ty Harris had 16 points and seven assists in the first half. Harris finished with 18 points and career-high 11 assists in 21 minutes.
The Sparks trailed 92-56 at the end of the third quarter. Despite the massive loss and being down by as many as 40 points in the season finale, Williams said his team never gave up.
“The real win and the grace of it all is seeing this team prosper through a season, a journey,” said Sparks interim head coach Fred Williams in a pregame interview.
Sparks interim head coach Fred Williams’ last pregame interview of the 2022 WNBA season. @CoachFredW talks about what he’s learned about this team and why Nneka Ogwumike and Chiney Ogwumike will not play against the Dallas Wings. #LASparks #WNBATwitter pic.twitter.com/ljv8A1WNxv
— John W. Davis (@johnwdavis) August 14, 2022
The Sparks lost nine of their last ten games and were eliminated from playoff contention on Thursday after a 93-69 loss to the Connecticut Sun. This marks the second time the Sparks have missed the playoffs in consecutive seasons in the team’s 26-year history.
The Sparks were as high as sixth in the standings with a month to go in the regular season but they lost eight of their final nine games without Liz Cambage, who agreed to a contract divorce with the organization on July 26.
Meanwhile, due to injuries, forwards Chiney (face) and Nneka Ogwumike (ankle) did not play against Dallas, along with guard Kristi Toliver (calf) and rookie forward Rae Burrell (knee), leaving the Sparks with an eight-person rotation and only three players taller than 6-foot.
Against Dallas, Williams said a key to victory would be slowing down 6-foot-7 center Teaira McCowan, who was shooting a career-high 59.6% from the field before Sunday’s game. McCowan finished with a team-high 24 points and 8 rebounds. She shot 69.2% from the field.
Dallas guard Marina Mabrey, who was a 2019 second-round draft pick by the Sparks had a team-high 27 points.
Sparks guard Chennedy Carter finished with 13 points. Rookie guard Kianna Smith had 10 points.
“You can only control the controllable,” Williams continued when asked about lessons learned during the Sparks’ tumultuous season. “Situations happened throughout the whole season. We stayed together by teaching players each day with difficult situations through injuries and travel. For me, it’s been more about learning what I know of this team, what I like of this team, what I trust of this team and the trust factor is that we made it through this journey.”
Williams finished 8-16 this season as interim head coach after the team parted ways with then general manager/head coach Derek Fisher, who was 5-7, at the time of his dismissal.