Sky flex their muscle, get first home win of the season beating Sparks 83-73

The Sky are quickly earning a reputation in the WNBA.

There have been signs.

In their opener against the Wings, they played with a physicality that warranted attention. In their four-point loss to the undefeated Sun, they confirmed their strength by putting up a fight against one of the league’s most formidable teams. In their 83-73 victory Thursday against the Sparks (2-5) — their first home win of the season — they again demonstrated their ability to be a physically dominant team.

And 6-7 rookie Kamilla Cardoso hasn’t even debuted yet.

“Look at the talent we have on this team,” Sky guard Marina Mabrey said. “We have players that can really get up and pressure.”

The Sparks closed the third quarter on a 20-8 run, anchored by forward Dearica Hamby (game-high 24 points, 13 rebounds), to cut the Sky’s 21-point lead to nine heading into the fourth. The Sky committed six turnovers in the third quarter.

They have struggled to close out close games and have fallen flat in the third quarter. Aside from their first win of the season May 18 against the Wings, the Sky were winless in clutch games coming into the game against the Sparks.

They never got into clutch minutes this time, maintaining at least a nine-point lead for all of the fourth quarter.

“It starts with me as a point guard,” Dana Evans said. “I have to get us more settled down. When they go on runs, we think we have to make it back up or make it up on one possession. I have to do a better job of putting us in [better] positions.”

The Sky (3-3) had 14 steals and forced 19 turnovers, which they converted into 18 points. They won the battle in the paint, too, outscoring the Sparks 40-32 inside. The Sky had seven blocks, three coming in the fourth quarter.

Mabrey led the Sky with 20 points and had seven assists and seven rebounds. Elizabeth Williams had 17 points and 11 rebounds. Eleven of the 12 Sky players who played scored, except for guard Kysre Gondrezick, who played only one minute.

“It’s big when you take a look at the scoring, and it’s being shared,” coach Teresa Weatherspoon said. “It’s difficult to defend a team when you’re sharing the ball and moving the ball.”

The Sky had a season-high 27 assists.

“Sharing the ball stands out the most,” Weatherspoon said. “We’re a team about defensive stops and offensive runs. We were active.”

Williams was the Sky’s power source during their third-quarter struggles with seven points, four rebounds, two blocks and a steal.

Her teammates point to her leadership in challenging moments. Williams continues to be a calming voice when it’s most necessary.

After scoring and drawing a foul on Sparks rookie Cameron Brink, Williams emerged from under the basket oozing a calm confidence that she constantly transmits to her teammates.

“I’ve been trying to take that momentum from the offseason and bring it here,” Williams said. “We also have a lot of changes. So I want people to feel calm and confident. There are going to be moments where it’s not perfect, but we can figure it out.”

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