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Brink of glory: Cameron’s game-winning block stuns fans


Courtesy of Samuel Chacko/Daily49er


By: Alyssa De La Cruz, Daily49er


LONG BEACH — The Los Angeles Sparks narrowly won over the Washington Mystics in a gripping game at the Walter Pyramid, clinching their first-season victory with a 70-68 win on Tuesday. 


The win was a much-needed morale booster for the Sparks, who were coming off back-to-back losses against the Atlanta Dream and the reigning WNBA champions, the Las Vegas Aces.


First-round pick Cameron Brink, who has struggled with foul trouble in the past two games, was in the spotlight again.

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Dearica Hamby, fresh off a 29-point game against the Aces, contributed significantly to the win. 


During pregame Hamby expressed her gratitude for playing at the Walter Pyramid, appreciating the intimate and supportive atmosphere, which she described as cozy.


Turnovers and free throw shooting have plagued the Sparks in their recent games, and tonight was no exception. 

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“Turnovers are pretty obvious; we have to learn how to take care of the ball for the next game,” Hamby said. “It is hard to win a game with many turnovers.” 


The team has struggled with turnovers and has been making less than 60% of their free throws in the past two games. However, they managed to improve their free throw percentage slightly, surpassing the 60% mark tonight.


The game began with the Sparks grappling with familiar issues of free throw and foul troubles. Fans stood until the first Sparks' basket, which came two minutes in when Layshia Clarendon scored. 

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The first period saw strong defensive plays from both teams, with ceneter Shakira Austin scoring first for the Mystics. 


Guards Karlie Samuelson and Lexie Brown traded three-pointers, while Mystics forward Aaliyah Edwards, who entered the game with 5:12 left, quickly found herself in foul trouble. 


The Sparks' coaches showed visible frustration with the officiating, feeling their team was not getting fair calls. 


Brown ended the first quarter going 3-for-3 from beyond the arc, setting an early tone for her standout performance. Brown ended the game with 20 points, two rebounds and six assists. 

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“I had a busy offseason getting healthy…I was at the gym getting better,” Brown said. “I gave huge thanks to Chris (Johnson) and Corey (Smith) (basketball trainers).” 


The second period was marked by strong defense but the turnover woes continued for the Sparks. Both teams expressed frustration with the officiating, resulting in a highly physical game. 


Despite playing for 10 minutes, Brink did not score and managed to stay out of foul trouble. She scored four points, eight rebounds and three assists. 


Brink finally scored her first points with 7:51 left in the third period, sparking excitement from the crowd. 


“Her presence even when she is not making shots…she is a factor,” Sparks head coach Curt Miller said. “She is not a natural hunt for points but we work on that.” 


The crowd's vocal disapproval of the referees' calls and their attempts to disrupt the Mystics' free throw shooting were notable.

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Hamby's efforts cut the lead to five points, but turnovers continued to hamper the Sparks. Hamby finished the game with 17 points, 18 rebounds and four assists. 


A series of scoring exchanges, including another three-pointer from Kia Nurse, tied the game 50-50 at the end of the third period.


“I think we picked up the pace in the third and fourth. We have dangerous players. We are in pretty good shape but so are the Mystics,” Brown said. “They punched us first and we recovered.” 


Nurse gave the Sparks an early lead with a three-pointer going into the fourth quarter. The crowd's energy surged as they stomped and cheered for defensive stops. 


Rickea Jackson's stellar play on both ends extended the Sparks' lead. The Sparks guard came off the bench with nine points, three rebounds and one assist. 

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“Rickea is learning our rules and what is happening to her you can see she is learning as she goes,” Miller said. “She played great tonight…she can go get you a basket.” 


Edwards' late-game heroics cut the lead to one with two minutes remaining. Edwards finished the game with 10 points, three rebounds and one assist. 

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In the closing seconds, the tension was visible. Despite her challenges, Brink's crucial block on Austin's layup secured the win for the Sparks.


“Wins are hard to come by and every win is huge for us, for our confidence,” Miller said.


Article Credit to Daily49er


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