Brittney Sykes, the sole Syracuse Orange representative in the WNBA this season, took the court this week for the Los Angeles Sparks (5-7). Sykes, a 2017 SU graduate, averaged 12.7 points, six rebounds, and three steals in three games last week. She surpassed 1,400 career points, 500 rebounds, 500 field goals, and 100 steals on Sunday
On Wednesday, Los Angeles got back in the win column with an 85-80 home victory over the Phoenix Mercury (6-7). Sykes shot 60% from the floor and tallied a new season-high 14 points and team-high nine rebounds.
The Sparks shot 45% from the field and 32.1% from three. Five LA players scored in double figures, including Sykes (14 points), Erica Wheeler (18), Kristi Toliver (17), Amanda Zahui B (15), and Bria Holmes (10).
The Mercury shot 41.3% from the field and 33.3% from three. Three Phoenix players scored double digits, including Brittney Griner (30 points), Sophie Cunningham (16), and former Notre Dame star Skylar Diggins-Smith (15).
In the postgame press conference, head coach Derek Fisher spoke on Sykes’ performance this season:
“She’s finding her way within this new roster construction, where she fits in, where opportunities are going to be on the floor, and make plays offensively. She just deserves a lot of credit for doing the work.”
Sykes was also asked about her progression this summer after Wednesday’s game:
“I actually had a talk with Fish yesterday and I was telling him that I know that I haven’t been there offensively, so to be able to just talk to him and have that open space and just to tell him what’s going on outside of basketball. It really helped me today to just go out there and just play my game and know that ‘okay my head coach knows that I’m not sucking on purpose’. I did that and we got the outcome today.”
On Friday, the Mercury avenged Wednesday’s loss and defeated the Sparks in Los Angeles, 80-66. Sykes shot 63.8% from the field, tallying 14 points and grabbing five rebounds.
As a team, LA shot 38.3% from the field and 28.6% from three. The Sparks had three players score in double figures, including Wheeler (17 points), Sykes (14), and Holmes (11).
On the other bench, Phoenix shot 45.5% from the floor and 31.2% from three. Four Mercury players scored in double digits, including Notre Dame alumni Diggins-Smith (21 points) and Brianna Turner (15), as well as Griner (14) and Megan Walker (10).
On Sunday, the Sparks were defeated at home by the New York Liberty (7-6) in a close defeat, 76-73. Sykes contributed 10 points, a career-high seven steals, and four rebounds in the game.
As a team, LA shot 45.6% from the field and 25% from three. Wheeler (20 points), Toliver (15), Nia Coffey (15), and Sykes (10) scored in double-figures for the Sparks.
New York shot 42.1% from the floor and 32.3% from three. Four Liberty players tallied double digits, including Rebecca Allen (19 points), Sami Whitcomb (17), Betnijah Laney (14), and former Louisville Cardinal Kylee Shook (11).
After the game, Sykes spoke on what kind of player she is:
“I’m a slasher, I like to get to the basket, I like to create for others. I like to look for the open man, and I’m just everywhere. Whatever my team needs to do, I’m a very adaptable person.”
LA currently stands in 10th place in the league standings. They have yet to find a consistent balance between dominant offense and defense. A noticed pattern in the last few games is that often the opponents set the pace of the game and the Sparks follow it. Creating dominance early and making their own tone could help the Sparks find their way back into the win column.
Next up, LA will host the Washington Mystics (6-6) on Thursday, June 24 at 10:30 p.m. EST/7:30 p.m. PST. The Sparks will be back on the road Sunday for a 6:00 p.m. EST/3:00 p.m. PST match-up with the Mercury.