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Sparks Fail to Find Rhythm in Second Loss to Sun

September 19, 2019 - Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) - Los Angeles Sparks News Release

Los Angeles - Despite a quick start in the first quarter, the Los Angeles Sparks couldn't find answers for the remainder of the game. With a Game 2 loss in the WNBA semifinals 94-68 to the Connecticut Sun, the Sparks trail 0-2 in the series.

After Los Angeles went 5-for-22 from beyond the arc in Game 1 on Tuesday, the Sparks opened up with back-to-back 3-pointers from Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike. A turnaround jumper from Chelsea Gray followed by a steal and a layup from Riquna Williams gave the Sparks a 16-6, forcing the Sun to burn a timeout midway through the first period.

Connecticut exploded for a 9-0 run to cut their deficit to one, but a step-back jumper from Gray ignited a 6-0 Los Angeles run. Gray found Ogwumike with a no-look dime under the basket, giving the Sparks a 22-15 lead heading into the second frame.

Williams and Gray - who combined for just six points on 3-of-17 from the field on Tuesday - combined for 11 of Los Angeles' 22 points at the end of the first quarter. The Sparks backcourt in Gray, Williams and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt combined for 13 first-quarter points, more than their performance in all of Game 1.

In the second period, Ogwumike and Gray both drained shots extending the Sparks lead to 26-15, but the Sun strung together a 14-5 run, capped off by an and-one from Jonquel Jones to knot it up 31-31. The two teams exchanged buckets before Courtney Williams buried a floater to give Connecticut its first lead of the night, heading into the locker room with a 41- 40 lead.

Ogwumike - who shot a perfect 6-of-6 from the field in the first half - helped Los Angeles shoot 45.9% from the field compared to Connecticut's 36.4%, but the Sparks gave up 13 second-chance points after getting outrebounded 29-14 by the Sun.

After the break, Connecticut went on a 12-1 run. The Sparks went without a field goal in a three minute span and jumped ahead 55-47 before a right-wing jumper from Riquna Williams ended the run. But Los Angeles couldn't stop the bleeding.

Connecticut outscored Los Angeles 24-11 in the fourth quarter and held the Sparks to 9-of-26 in the second half. Ogwumike finished with 18 points while Riquna Williams finished with 14 points, but the Sparks struggled to find any offensive rhythm in the second half, dropping back-to-back road games.

Up Next: The Sparks will host the Connecticut Sun in Game 3 on Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Walter Pyramid (CSULB).

Sparks Notes

- Nneka Ogwumike started the game shooting 6- of-6 from the field, and finished with a team- high 18 points

- Nneka Ogwumike passed Diana Taurasi for 18th all-time in postseason rebounds (266)

- Alana Beard ranks 16th all-time in postseason steals (60)

- Candace Parker (867) tied Deanna Nolan for 7th in all-time postseason points

- The Sparks had their worst offensive fourth quarter of the season, scoring just 11 points in the frame

Sun Notes

- Jonquel Jones scored a playoff career-high 27 points

- Courtney Williams logged 25 points, six rebounds and six assists on 10-of-18 from the field

- Connecticut's 23-point win is its largest margin of victory for a postseason game in franchise history

- The Sun outscored the Sparks 79-46 in the second, third and fourth quarters

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