The Los Angeles Sparks returned to Staples Center following a 15-day road trip to face off against the first-place Connecticut Sun, falling 57-75. The Sparks could not overcome a 17- 0 run to start the game from Connecticut. Nneka Ogwumike and Nia Coffey led the Sparks with 24 points combined. Ogwumike put up 12 points, seven rebounds, and three assists. Coffey added 12 points on two 3-pointers while shooting 57% from the field. Sun forward Jonquel Jones led the game with 21 points and 14 rebounds. The Connecticut Sun shot 29 free throws to the Sparks 11, a differential of 18.
Chiney Ogwumike was injured in the second quarter and did not return.
The Sparks fell behind 17-0 to start the game but came back at the end of the first quarter led by Defensive Player Of The Year Candidate Brittney Sykes. She blocked a shot and helped close the gap to 19-8 at the end of the first quarter.
Nneka Ogwumike put up 10 first-half points to go along with three rebounds. The Connecticut Sun shot 41 percent from the field and put up 45 first-half points. Sun forward Jonquel Jones led all scorers with 17 first-half points.
In the second half, the Sparks continued to show flashes of their Top 4 defense and made dents in the Connecticut lead. With 3:20 to play in the game, Sparks center Amanda Zahui B. stole the ball and gave the perfect outlet pass to Wheeler for the easy layup. The Sun were able to get into the bonus in the first three quarters which prevented a more serious comeback effort from LA.
It was a physical battle between the two teams down low. The Sun shot 89% from the freethrow line and 44% from the field while causing the Sparks to turn the ball over 20 times throughout the game. The Sparks were able to play essentially even with the Sun after the initial run, scoring just one less point the remainder of the game after the 17-0 start.
While Head Coach Derek Fisher was disappointed with the loss, he made it abundantly clear: his players will be defined by how they respond in loss, and not in victory.
“I’m looking at who’s really willing to continue working hard every day, who’s still willing to come in early and stay late,” Fisher said. “Who’s still willing to sit down in the coach’s office and watch film and ask questions, because when this season ends whenever it goes like this isn’t the finish line.”
The Sparks will play their final home game of the season at Staples Center against the Seattle Storm on Sunday, Sept. 12 at 6 p.m. PT. The Sparks are excited to present an HBCU theme night and honor special guest Zaila Avant-garde