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Sparks Win 14th Straight at Staples Center to Close out Regular Season

September 8, 2019 - Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) - Los Angeles Sparks News Release

LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Sparks set a franchise record for 3-pointers made in a single season (242) and completed a sweep of the Minnesota Lynx to close out the 2019 regular season. Riquna Williams posted a team-high 15 points for Los Angeles in the 77-68 victory, while Napheesa Collier led all scorers with 16 points.

Williams blocked former Sparks teammate Odyssey Sims to open the Sparks' last tune-up before the 2019 playoffs. Defensive Player of the Year candidate Tierra Ruffin-Pratt forced Sylvia Fowles into a turnover on Minnesota's next possession, and Nneka Ogwumike capitalized for the game's first basket. The Lynx then rattled off nine unanswered points to take an early lead, but Candace Parker and Chelsea Gray supplied a 15-4 run to end the quarter and give the Sparks a three-point edge. Ogwumike, Gray and Parker scored all of Los Angeles' 19 first-quarter points.

Sydney Weise carried the Sparks throughout the first five minutes of the second quarter, but it was Parker that once again ignited the Los Angeles offense. With just under three minutes left in the half, Parker blocked Temi Fagbenle at the basket and dished out an assist to Weise on the other end of the court to kick off a 9-3 Sparks run. Los Angeles entered the break with a 36-34 lead after a tense first half.

The Sparks broke open the game at the start of the third quarter on the heels of a 6-0 Williams run. Williams scored 10 of the Sparks' 22 third-quarter points on three 3-pointers, including a four-point play that sent the STAPLES Center crowd into a frenzy. The 3-point barrage broke the Sparks franchise record for 3-pointers made in a season and pushed the Los Angeles lead to 10. The Sparks would not relinquish the cushion for the remainder of the quarter.

Chiney Ogwumike stepped up for Los Angeles during the fourth quarter, scoring the team's first nine points. No other Spark would score until Marina Mabrey completed a driving layup with just under four minutes to play. Collier, Lexie Brown and Damiris Dantas combined for a quick 15-point burst to cut the Los Angeles lead to six, but a Mabrey 3-pointer iced the Lynx with 27 seconds remaining to seal the Sparks' fourteenth consecutive home win. Los Angeles owns a league-best 15-2 home record with the victory and will enter the WNBA Playoffs as the number three overall seed.

Up next: The Sparks will host the lowest-seeded first-round winner of the WNBA Playoffs on Sunday, Sept. 15 at 12 p.m. in a second-round single elimination game.

Sparks Notes

- The Sparks set a single-season franchise record for 3-pointers made (242). Riquna Williams provided the go-ahead basket in the third quarter to break the previous record (237), set in 2011.

- Riquna Williams reached double- figures (15 points) for the 12th time this season and connected on four 3- pointers.

- Nneka Ogwumike posted a double- digit scoring output (12 points) for the 27th time this season.

- Chelsea Gray reached double-figures (14 points) for the 20th straight game and 28th time this season.

- Tonight's victory marks the Sparks' fourteenth consecutive home win. Los Angeles owns a league-best 15-2 home record this season.

Lynx Notes

- Napheesa Collier recorded her fifth career double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

- Damiris Dantas notched a career-high nine assists.

- Napheesa Collier finished her rookie campaign with 444 points, 223 rebounds, 87 assists, 65 steals and 32 blocks.

- Sylvia Fowles moved to 14th in WNBA history for free throws made (1,184).

Quotes

Coach Fisher on managing starter minutes during a tight fourth quarter:

"We definitely wanted to win the game, but we still wanted to be smart and responsible in terms of some of our veterans and key players. All of those players have been very valuable to us throughout different points in the season. But there isn't anything in practice this week that's going to prepare them to play Sylvia Fowles for real, or Napheesa Collier for real. And so we hope that will go a long ways assuming we play Minnesota again, or even playing Seattle the other night."

Coach Fisher on playoff rotations:

"Each game will kind of dictate different things. So tonight Kalani's size against Fowles we felt like it would be a good look instead of playing Maria (Vadeeva) a little bit more. We do think that depending on the matchup, it could vary. It could still be an eight, nine, 10 type of thing, but maybe just shorter minutes."

Chelsea Gray on the Los Angeles bench's effort in tonight's contest:

"It was great. We're going to need everybody to accomplish what we want to accomplish. They were great tonight, and we're going to feed off of that as we head into the postseason."

Candace Parker on the playoffs:

"We don't know exactly who we're going to play. We know that we want to be at home, which we did our work to be the third best team, but that doesn't mean anything when the ball is tipped. It's one game, which means we have to play that much harder. We have to have a great week of practice and preparation going in. We'll know who we're going to play on Wednesday, and we can go from there, but until then it's just about working on us and making sure we're strong going in."

Nneka Ogwumike on the Sparks' current post-season position, as compared to 2016:

"Well, three years ago we were in second. This [year] we still have to play an elimination game. It's not to say we're better or worse off. I think based off how we're playing now, we're in a good position. In regards to this year, I don't think we're really trying to compare any years. We're just trying to roll with what we have right now, roll with how we're playing and come ready for the postseason."

Riquna Williams on the Los Angeles team energy:

"We're always in a good mood. When we come out flat and allow the other team to hit first, it affects us. But if we come out, bring energy, jump them first, I think everybody starts having fun."

Cheryl Reeve on the energy level in fourth quarter:

"Derek accomplished everything he wanted to today: win the game and get the minutes down. We just couldn't make enough shots to make it really interesting for him to consider whether he would keep on [playing his starters in the fourth quarter]. We have been an offensive juggernaut for six games, but it just didn't happen for us. Los Angeles is a good defensive team, but we've got good shooters that are wide open and not making shots. It unfortunately wasn't our day, and a tough day for that to happen."

Cheryl Reeve on Minnesota's mindset moving into the playoffs:

"I think we need to take the momentum that we gained from the last six games of our regular season. We know how to be good, and now we need to do that on the road. That's the hardest thing, and that's why the home games are so coveted. We are going to see if we can win a hard road game. We need to play a lot better than we did today."

Napheesa Collier on looking forward to her first professional playoffs:

"Definitely [most excited about] the competition. Playoffs are always really fun. Not too long ago I was in a playoff situation with my college team and that's the best time of the year. Fun things happen in that time, so we are excited to be back here."

Napheesa Collier on Minnesota's team goals for the playoffs:

"Bringing everything that we have been working on the whole season together. Before this game we had a really good stretch, so just getting back to some of the things we were doing there and coming in strong to these games."

Sylvia Fowles on boosting Minnesota's morale after tonight's loss:

"We need to lock in on the things we don't do so well. We need to lock in a little bit more on the things we need to get done and if we do that, I think we will be alright. I think our offense kind of sucked tonight, nothing was falling, but we will get some shots to fall and hone in on what we need to get done defensively."

Sylvia Fowles on signing a contract extension with Minnesota:

"It's pretty much a no-brainer. I don't feel a certain kind of way because that's where I'm going to be until I'm done. But I am happy to extend it and to be back with this group to give it another go around and we will see where we go from there."

Cheryl Reeve on Sylvia Fowles contract extension:

"Obviously, we're ecstatic. Sylvia Fowles wants to be a Lynx and finish her career here. Wasn't surprising to us, you know, that she wants to, but obviously, we don't take anything for granted. She's been the, no pun intended, the centerpiece to this team. And it will be nice to have that going forward."

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