Sparks Cruise Past Connecticut Sun
LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Sparks topped the Connecticut Sun, 84-72, in front of a sold-out Staples Center crowd on the fifth annual #WeAreWomen game, where the Sparks honored six women who empower the Los Angeles community. The Sparks were led by Riquna Williams game-high 21 points, including five 3-pointers, to earn their 11th straight win at home, the fourth longest home win-streak in franchise history. Courtney Williams anchored Connecticut with 18 points and nine rebounds, while Jonquel Jones notched a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
The Sparks trailed the Sun throughout the first quarter, finishing at 22-26. Los Angeles struggled beyond the arc, shooting 33.3% compared to Connecticut's 57.1%, aside from a dagger three from Sydney Weise to bring the score within one point in the last two minutes. Nneka Ogwumike notched her 4000th career point with a layup off a Chelsea Gray assist.
Once the Sparks claimed the lead with a Riquna Williams 3-pointer at 31-29, the score bounced back- and-forth for the last five minutes of the quarter. With 13 seconds left and a tied game, Connecticut's Courtney Williams missed two free throws and another shot attempt before Ogwumike grabbed the rebound. Riquna Williams beat the buzzer with a corner three to give the Sparks a 42-39 lead at the half. Jonquel Jones led all scorers with 12 points, but Los Angeles boasted a balanced attack, led by Riquna Williams nine points. Ogwumike, Chelsea Gray and Candace Parker added six points each.
The Sparks outscored the Sun 23-13 in the third as Riquna Williams, Gray and Ogwumike each hit double-digit scoring. Riquna Williams immediately lit up the third quarter with a 3-pointer off of a Parker assist, which moved Parker up to 15th all-time in assists (1209). Gray threw behind her back to Ogwumike who blew past three defenders to give the Sparks a ten-point lead as the clock wound down to two minutes remaining in the quarter. Alana Beard added two more points to enter the fourth with a 65-52 lead.
Parker tacked on five more points, and Riquna Williams hit her fifth 3-pointer to extend the Sparks lead to 75-63. The Sparks were outrebounded 33-26, but shot 48.4% from the field and 37.5% beyond the arc compared to the Sun's 41.2% and 36.4%. They held Connecticut's Jones to just four points in the second half after Jones scored 12 in the first half. With one minute left in the game, Ogwumike and Parker chest bumped in front of the scorer's table after subbing out for the bench to close the game. Ogwumike finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and four steals, while Parker added 13 points and five assists.
Next Up: The Sparks will travel to Washington for the first game of a three-game road trip on
Tuesday night at 4:00 p.m. PT on ESPN2 and NBA TV Canada.
- The Sparks won their 11th straight home game - their fourth longest home winning streak in franchise history
- Los Angeles' defense held Jonquel Jones to just four second-half points after logging 12
points in the first half - Candace Parker dished out five assists to put her at 1,209 career assists, becoming 15th all- time - The Sparks are 7-1 when starting Riquna Williams, who knocked down five 3-pointers and
finished with 21 points in the win - Nneka Ogwumike notched 16 points and eight rebounds, marking her 23rd double-digit
performance of the season - Nneka Ogwumike scored her 4,000th career point
- Connecticut outrebounded Los Angeles 33-26
- Skekinna Stricklen's 12-point performance put her past the 2,000 point mark with 2,002 career points, becoming the 118th player to reach that mark
- Jasmine Thomas recorded five assists and now ranks 22nd in all-time career assists, moving past Danielle Robinson with 2,002
- Jonquel Jones notched her 15th double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds
Chiney Ogwumike on the game's implications:
"We need to treat every game seriously, and finally we have our full roster so that you know exactly what it's going to feel like when we compete at a high level. It's the best compliment in the world when you treat a team to that standard. Today was good, not only that we protect home court because that's so important. But that we understand we are capable when we put our minds to it to put our heads down and be that defensive team that everyone knows. Also be smart and exploit our talent offensively."
Chiney Ogwumike on #WeAreWomen theme:
"We are women that reflect everything in society. Just knowing from the jump tonight had to be special and I'm just so happy that we won on We are Women Day because that's the biggest gift we can give. Just showing how fierce we are and how much we protect our home, our community, each other. So today was a win-win."
Sydney Weise on going into playoffs:
"The expectation is the championship. I mean that's what you work for all season, that's what you want as a competitor. In the off-season that's what you work hard for on your own, and so that's been the aim and the vision since we got here. Anything less than that is failure, that's for anyone across the league. That's what we all work for, so that's what we want going into playoffs."
Derek Fisher on Nneka Ogwumike's presence:
"The resilience, the mental and physical toughness to consistently be who she is, that's a hard thing for all of us to do. She comes to work everyday with purpose and positive energy about herself which is infectious. Her example of how hard she works allows her to be able to hold other people accountable, and that's ultimately what you need in the locker room...She's as reliable as it gets."
Derek Fisher on Riquna Williams' performance:
"She's a player that just competes hard and is not afraid of mixing it up a little bit, and that's what it takes to win. That's what Riquna brings on a daily basis. She is here offensively, willing to take and make shots. I don't think many people give her credit for the way she defends, but she's really capable of getting after it."
Derek Fisher on having full team back:
"We are starting to drill down into what we feel like what will be a consistent eight to nine players no matter what. Today we were able to finish the third quarter strong without making any substitutions, so we decided to go that route instead of taking some players out, and I thought that was good to help us keep the momentum going that we started to establish in the third quarter. It's a good problem to have."
Jonquel Jones on takeaways from tonight's game:
"I think we kind of let our intensity slip a little bit in the second and the third [quarters]. I think we just have to do a better job of that. I think [Los Angeles] kind of got us off-guard with their trapping. When they decided to trap us in different situations it kind of switched us their game plan and threw us off, so we just have to be more prepared for them to just switch it up and be more prepared for the traps and get into spaces where we can help the guards."
Jonquel Jones on playing against former teammate Chiney Ogwumike:
"It's just like anybody else. You know, you just want to win the game, so it doesn't matter if you have that history with them or not, you just want to try and get the upper hand and win that battle. She's a great person off the court, obviously, but just try to win the battle."
Courtney Williams on executing against the Sparks guards:
"We know they're a tough team, a tough matchup. Just try to get stops. Anybody you play against in this league is going to be a tough matchup, so just gotta try and get stops. Riquna Williams is tough, quick, and strong. So playing somebody like that is tough, that's a tough goal."
Curt Miller on the Sparks matchup:
"Their half-court execution was great tonight. We tried like crazy to disrupt them... They only shoot 25% from [behind] the arc without Riquna. Her five 3's were big. They were just excellent in half- court execution. They were physical with us on our offensive end, their defense, and they just disrupted us in stretches where we just struggled to put points up against such a talented team."
Curt Miller on Connecticut's performance:
"We had a 36 hour turnaround on Friday night, checked into the hotel at 1 in the morning, flew out here at 4:30... I was so impressed with our energy out of the gate, first quarter. And you worry. You worry about the team with this quick turnaround and coast-to-coast travel. And [the Sparks] executed, out-executed us in the half court and they had a really good night in the half court."
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