The Dallas Wings (6-5) improved their home record to 5-1 at the College Park Center in Arlington after routing the Los Angeles Sparks, 101-72, behind an energized home crowd.
Rookie forward Azurá Stevens made her first career start for Dallas. Stevens scored eight consecutive points in the opening quarter highlighted by a pair of three-point baskets. The Wings first-round pick made contributions everywhere, filling out the box score with 13 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks and a steal.
Stevens was able to share her first career start with her father who was in attendance for the Wings’ victory. The 6-foot-6 forward was often matched against former Finals MVP Candace Parker. Parker finished with 9 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds.
“I talked to someone about that [matchup] before the game,” Stevens shared. “I was just like, it’s going to be a great challenge to be able to play against her because she’s been one of my favorite players from when I was a little kid and so just to be able to play against her is a humbling experience.”
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Wings center Liz Cambage logged two minutes in the first quarter after drawing a pair of quick fouls. The early foul trouble resulted in head coach Fred Williams leaning early on All-Star forward Glory Johnson.
Cambage still managed a productive first half with 14 points, five rebounds and just one missed shot (6-of-7 from the field) in 12 minutes.
Wings guard Allisha Gray finished with 15 points and proved instrumental in helping Dallas establish its early lead. Gray combined with Stevens to score 16 of the Wings’ 26 first-quarter points.
“It finally felt good to see some shots go in for a change,” Gray said. “But that’s all a credit to my teammates — they were able to find me when I was open. [Skylar Diggins-Smith] really boosted me up, really helped my confidence going into the game tonight, as well. But I give all the credit to my teammates.”
Diggins-Smith led the Wings by demonstrating keen decision-making as a distributor.
Los Angeles keyed Diggins-Smith with multiple defenders limiting her to only two shots in the first half. Diggins-Smith led Dallas with 7 assists as the Wings totaled 12 assists on 17 baskets at halftime.
“I complimented Skylar on [her playmaking abilities] after the game,” Williams said. “She pretty much at halftime had two [points], and she just said, ‘hey, I just want to pass to my teammates. They’re on, they’re hot.’ and that’s what she did. She went out and made sure they got the shots they needed.”
Diggins-Smith finished with 6 points and 11 assists in the victory.
Aerial Powers added 16 points off the bench, including a step-back three in the fourth quarter which drew fans at the College Park Center to their feet.
The Wings shot 53 percent from the field and 48 percent from three with four players finishing in double figures, highlighted by an efficient 20 points (9-of-10 from the field) in 21 minutes from Cambage.
Dallas returns to action at 3 p.m. Sunday to host the Seattle Storm at the College Park Center in Arlington.
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