Augustus Leads Sparks Past Connecticut

The Los Angeles Sparks earned a tough win over the Connecticut Sun 81-76 to improve to 2-1 on the 2020 season. The Sparks got solid contributions from the full roster, including Candace Parker’s first double-double of the season (10 points, 11 rebounds),15 points and six assists from Chelsea Gray, and 13 points from Seimone Augustus, who scored nine in the third quarter to help the Sparks take control.

The Sun scored the game’s first six points before Nneka Ogwumike put the Sparks on the board. The first quarter was a back-and-forth affair until a Candace Parker bucket pushed the Sparks ahead 19-18 at the end of the period. Chelsea Gray helped the Sparks grain control in the second quarter, reaching double-digit points before halftime. Riquna Williams added three 3-pointers in the second quarter alone to help the team take a 41-36 Sparks lead into the locker room.

The second half began with a Connecticut run led by DeWanna Bonner who erupted for 34 points and 14 rebounds on the night, turning a five-point halftime lead for the Sparks into a five-point deficit. But the

Sparks got a huge boost from the bench when four-time champion Seimone Augustus scored nine third-quarter points and rookie Te’a Cooper stifled the Connecticut backcourt with pressure defense, helping limit All-Star point guard Jasmine Thomas to 3-of-12 shooting.

“As far as the third quarter, I just wanted to bring the spark any way that I could, just trying to find my spots to be effective on the court and get other players going, get CP going, get Chelsea going, get Nneka going,” Augustus said. “But it allowed me to get myself going as well and try to bring some energy in the third quarter.”

Their efforts helped the Sparks take a 63-57 lead into the fourth quarter.

“[Seimone] came up huge with her versatility,” Gray said after the game. “Being able to switch on Bonner and Thomas setting those screens was key, as well as being able to defend one through four was huge.”

The Sparks went up by a game-high 12 in the fourth quarter as Cooper showed flashes of her potential with spinning drives to the basket. She’d finish with eight points. Nneka Ogwumike chipped in with six fourth-quarter points of her own to finish with 14.

“We’re a talented team, and as we get in better condition and better rhythm, I think our game will start to look better,” Fisher said. “But right now, we just got to scrap and claw and squeeze out every win we can.”

The Sparks face off against the Seattle Storm on Saturday, Aug. 1 at 5 p.m. PT on CBS Sports Network and Spectrum SportsNet.