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Big bench output leads Sky past Sparks

May 9, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; A general view of the game ball during the preseason WNBA game between the New York Liberty and the China National Team at Barclays Center.  Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago reserves accounted for 43 points, led by rookie Rebekah Gardner’s career-high 18, as the Sky rolled to an 80-68 road win over the Los Angeles Sparks on Thursday.

Azura Stevens added 14 points coming off the bench, hitting 6 of 7 from the floor without a missed attempt until the game’s final minute. Her blistering shooting, coupled with Gardner’s 8-of-11 performance from the field, helped Chicago hit 48.5 percent overall.

The Sky (18-6) finished 33 of 68 from the floor in total, including 8 of 19 from 3-point range — and all despite Candace Parker going scoreless on 0-of-11 shooting.

Parker contributed in other phases, though, grabbing nine of her team-high 11 rebounds by halftime and matching a team high with four assists. Courtney Vandersloot, Julie Allemand and Gardner also passed for four assists each as the Sky earned their third straight win and prevailed for the eighth time in nine games.

Gardner also set a personal best with 10 rebounds. The double-double was the first of the 32-year-old’s brief WNBA career, putting an exclamation point on the UCLA product’s return to Los Angeles after years spent overseas.

Kahleah Copper contributed 12 points for Chicago, while Allie Quigley added 11. Copper and Quigley combined for three 3-pointers during an 11-2 third-quarter run that put Chicago ahead by double figures for the rest of the game.

The Sky’s lead swelled to as many as 20 points.

Nneka Ogwumike led Los Angeles with 16 points. Chiney Ogwumike added 14 points and a game-high 13 points, and Brittney Sykes went for 12 points, five assists and four rebounds. Katie Lou Samuelson scored all 12 of her points on 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point range.

The Sparks (10-14) took their third consecutive loss. They could not overcome a 28-of-71 (39.2 percent) shooting performance from the floor, despite hitting 7 of 17 (41.2 percent).

Los Angeles played without Liz Cambage, who entered health and protocol earlier in the day.

–Field Level Media