(Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA) —The Sparks (17-10) continued their third home-stand game against the Connecticut Sun (20-8) on 8/25. The finale coincided with the team’s game theme and its 5th Annual Salute to “We Are Women.”
Starting Line-Ups: For the Sun: #40 Shekinna Stricklin, #25 Alyssa Thomas, #35 Jonquel Jones, #10 Courtney Williams, and #5 Jasmine Thomas. For the Sparks, Head Coach, Derek Fisher sent out: #10 Tierra Ruffin-Pratt (TRP), #30 Nneka Ogwumike, #3 Candace Parker, #2 Riquna Williams, and #12 Chelsea Gray.
Attendance: 17,076 (Sell-out)
Game Summary: (1st Qtr)—Riquna Williams and Chelsea Gray put up the first five points of the game, (5-4) Sparks with 7 minutes left. Next, Gray fed N. Ogwumike in the presence of a well-defended basket and she she powered it in for her first basket of the game, (7-4). A length of the court move by Alyssa Thomas made it (8-7), Sun. Jonquel Jones hit a trey, (11-7). Time-out called by the Sparks. CP3 game back to hit jumper, (11-9). Then a 3-ball rained down for the Sun, but then TRP answered. Before you knew it, the Sun’s Jasmine Thomas hit a trey. That was answered again, by TRP with a “Plus 1.” She made the free throw, making it (17-14) with 3:17 left. C. Ogwumike and Alana Beard entered the game together. Shekinna Stricklin hit another 3-pointer, (20-14). Maria Vadeeva scored after offensive rebound, (20-16). Sydney Wiese entered for Chelsea at the 2 minute mark. Wiese quickly hit a 3-pointer, (20-19). Bria Holmes scored on a lay-up, (22-19). A clean steal that led to a basket by Courtney Williams moved it (24-19). C. Ogwumike answered it with an “And 1” after she dropped in a floater from 8′ out. She made the free throw, (24-22). Alexis Jones replaced TRP with :24 seconds left. A “tip-in” by Jonquel Jones ended the period at (26-22) in favor of the Sun.
(2nd Qtr)—Bria Holmes hit 3-pointer to open the scoring, (29-22). A power move in the key by C. Ogwumike resulted in a deuce, (29-24). After a questionable blocking foul on Gray, the crowd roared its disapproval. No pleading helped the cause. The ball was awarded to the Sun. Then, a non-shooting foul was called on a N. Ogwumike drive to the basket. Try to understand this ruling by the official…she was slapped in the face while going up, and fell to the floor writhing in pain. She took a few moments to recover and stayed in the gme. However, no free throws were awarded. On the Sparks next possession, Nekka was fouled in-the-act-of-shooting and made both, (29-26). Then, Gray brought the crowd to its feet with an NBA style point guard’s successful, and artistic move to the hoop, (29-28). This came with 6:09 left in the half. Riquna W. buried a timely, and a deep 3-pointer, (31-29) for a Sparks lead. Jonquel Jones answered with her own trey, (32-31) Sun. CP3 countered on a dribble-drive from dead center in the key, (33-32), but the Sun came back with a J. Thomas hoop (34-32), Sparks. CP3 showed up with a baseline, turnaround jumper, (35-34) Sparks. Then a steal then a feed to CP3 for a lay-up, but she missed. The Sun came back with a lay-up of their own for a (36-35) lead with 2:40 left. A player control foul was called on J. Thomas when she swung her elbow into face of Riquna. The Sparks then gave it back when CP3 was called for an offensive foul. On defense, TRP suddenly fell to the floor in transition, but after a missed shot by the Sun, the Sparks took the rebound and went up court. The refs finally stopped play and the Sparks medical staff came out to administer to TRP. After she got up on her own power and moved off the court, she made a comment to the crew and drew a Technical foul. The Sun made it, (37-35) with just 1:47 left in the half. N. Ogwumike then drove it in for a deuce to tie the game. On their next possession, the Sparks turned it over to Courtney Williams who hit an open jumper in the key, (39-37). Gray then answered to tie the game once again at (39-39). A player control would then be charged to the Sun’s Morgan Tuck with only :43.9 seconds left. The ball was awarded to the Sparks. Then after the Sun missed two free throws, the Sparks had it for a last possession. They set it up for Riquna W. who got off a great looking jump shot from deep in the corner of 3-point land and she swished it through for a (42-39) lead. Upon the officiating crew’s review, it stood.
HALFTIME SCORE: Sparks 42 Sun 39
PHOTO GALLERY CREDITS: Erik Sarni, East L.A. Sports Scene Productions
(3rd Qtr)—Alyssa Thomas opened the scoring, then Riquna kept her hot 3-point shooting hand, (45-41). N. Ogwumike drove and then on a beautiful reverse pivot move, muscled up a 5’er, (47-41). A “give’n’go” to Alyssa Thomas resulted in another score, closing the margin to (47-43). Riquna W. was fouled in the act of shooting, and she made both, (49-43) with 7:21 remaining. Stricklin scored on a baseline move, (49-45). Jonquel Jones tipped in a miss, (49-47) with 5:25. A Media time-out was called with 4:56 remaining in the stanza. A second delay of game was charged to the Sun and with it came a team Technical foul. Chelsea Gray shot the free throw and made it, (50-47) with 4:35 left. Alyssa Thomas was fouled in the act of shooting but managed to miss both tosses. Gray took a great pass from CP3 for a trey, (53-47). Nneka took an offensive rebound from an Alana Beard shot in the key and powered it back up for two, (55-47). With 3:08 left, Riquna drove through the key for two, (57-49). Then came an assist from Riquna to a cutting Nneka for a one-step finishing lay-in. The sellout crowd roared again with its approval, (59-49). Nneka stayed warm and then lighted up the board again with a high-arching jumper off an assist from CP3. A 3-pointer was buried by Striklin, making the score (61-52). CP3 went in for a lay-up, (63-52). The Sparks had the ball with :31.2 second on the game clock. A timely jumper came from Alana Beard for a (65-52) lead. The Sun missed the last shot of the period as time ran out.
(4th Qtr)—CP3 went to the line for 2 free throws, making both, (67-52). The Sun answered back, (67-54). J. Thomas was still in her rhythm and buried hit a trey from the corner, (67-57). Sydney Wiese responded with her own trey from corner (70-57). A turnover led to Courtney Williams lay-in, (70-59). After a Media time-out, Riquna hit a long 2 pointer, (72-59) with 6:50 left in the game. Courtney Williams hit a jumper, (72-61). It was the hot-hand of Courtney Williams yet again, (72-63). Then RW, the 3 point “sniper,” did it again, (75-63). with 4:47 left. CP3 added insurance to the game with a 3-pointer from the perimeter, (78-53) with 3:19 left. Jonquel Jones was fouled and made two, (78-65). Courtney Williams drew a questionable foul on Riquna and went to the line for a pair. A time-out was called with 2:53 remaining and with that came the “Fan Favorite” point of the game—-the T-shirt toss to the hungry and long-awaiting fans). After these festivities, play resumed and Riquna made both for a (78-67) advantage. Next, an “Air Ball” was served up by the Sun and resulted in a Chelsea Gray drive and score, (80-67) with just 2:11 left. Nneka drew a shooting foul and made both, (82-67) with 1:47 left. At this point, it was All-Academic, as the Sparks rolled to their 11th consecutive home victory.