UNCASVILLE, Conn. – The Sparks were in striking distance for the entire game, but were unable to steal Game 1 in Connecticut, falling 84-75. Los Angeles got double-doubles from Candace Parker (24 points, 10 rebounds) and Nneka Ogwumike (20 points, 10 rebounds), but the backcourt of Chelsea Gray and Riquna Williams was outscored 34-6 by Jasmine Thomas and Courtney Williams. Alyssa Thomas led the Sun with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
N. Ogwumike scored the first two baskets of game, but the Sun answered with a 7-0 run before a Tierra Ruffin-Pratt 3-pointer tied the game at 7-7. The Sun ended the quarter on a 14-7 run powered by 13 points from Alyssa Thomas and two 3-pointers from Jasmine Thomas. The Sun led 21-14 after the first quarter.
The Sun led by as many as 12 points in the second quarter, but back-to-back baskets from N. Ogwumike pulled the Sparks to within six at 26-20. Trailing 29-22, Alana Beard scored on an acrobatic drive to cut the deficit to 29-24 with 5:45 remaining in the second quarter. Pull-up jumpers from Chelsea Gray and Riquna Williams pulled the Sparks to within three at 33-30. The Sparks regained the lead on a 3-pointer from Candace Parker at 36-35. A Parker turnaround jumper put the Sparks up 40-37 as she reached double-figures, and that was the score heading into the half.
Shekinna Stricklen tied the game at 40-40 on the first possession of the second half with a 3-pointer, and J. Thomas and Stricklen added two more triples to give Connecticut a 46-40 lead. Back-to-back jumpers from Beard pulled the Sparks to within three at 49-46. The Sparks took a 52-51 lead on a N. Ogwumike turnaround in the lane. A Parker 3-pointer gave the Sparks a 58-57 lead and J. Thomas answered with a layup to give the Sun a 59-58 lead to end the third quarter.
The Sparks could not get their starting backcourt of Gray and Williams going as they had a combined four points midway through the fourth quarter. The tandem finished with just six points on a combined 3-for-17 from the field.
Sydney Wiese tied the game at 64-64 with a pullup jumper, but the Sun answered with a 4-0 run to force a timeout from head coach Derek Fisher with 5:42 remaining and the score 68-64 Connecticut. A Jonquel Jones 3-pointer gave the Sun a 73-66 lead. The Sparks kept batting, but turnovers and some key missed shots prevented a comeback.
Up next:Game 2 of the WNBA Semifinals is Thursday, Sept. 19 at Mohegan Sun at 3:30 p.m. PT on ESPN2.