Los Angeles had a fantastic win in their home-opener against Connecticut last Friday with a great performance from Chiney Ogwumike. But it was a different story in Connecticut on Thursday in her return.
The Sparks fell to the Connecticut Sun 89-77 in Ogwumike’s return to Mohegan Sun Arena. Ogwumike finished with 19 points, three rebounds, and three steals.
Ogwumike was met with boos in the introductions. The Sun was able to hold her from scoring for much of the game until she was able to get it going offensively for the Sparks in the second half.
Connecticut held Los Angeles to just 11 points in the first quarter. The Sparks were unable to create rhythm on offense which was aided by the Sun’s defensive pressure. They forced the Sparks to turn the ball over five times in the quarter.
Despite of Marina Mabrey’s quick five points to make it 16-11 score the Sun responded with a 7-0 run to close out the quarter.
Los Angeles was able to hunker down on defense and find a groove on offense in the second quarter. This brought the 12-point deficit down to single digits 29-20.
Turnovers were still a problem for the Sparks in the second quarter, however. They allowed the Sun to get out in transition and score six-straight points. Los Angeles went just 16.7 percent from the three-point line, but managed 43.8 percent from the field to close out the half.
Despite the three-point deficiency for the Sparks, Sydney Wiese was able to hit from deep to bring the Sparks within eight 35-27.
Sparks rally but can’t comeback
Ogwumike and Jonquel Jones exchanged baskets to begin the third quarter. For a stretch, the Sun was able to extend their lead to 57-40, their largest lead of the game.
Mabrey’s production helped the Sparks, especially in the third quarter, as she scored six points on 2-3 three-pointers to close the gap for Los Angeles.
Down 21 at one point, the Sparks were unable to get over the hump, but managed to get within 13 at the end of the third 65-52.
Los Angeles rallied back in the fourth quarter. Nneka Ogwumike hit a three-pointer to bring the deficit to 73-59 with 7:03 remaining. Then the Sparks managed to climb their way back into the game with 5:04 left to make it a 10-point game.
Chelsea Gray assisted on a Chiney Ogwumike shot following some pick and roll action. Ogwumike got the contact on a foul to make it a three-point play. She made her free throw to cut the deficit to seven.
Ogwumike’s layup in transition slashed the Sun’s lead to 81-77 with 1:16 remaining. Connecticut were able to keep Los Angeles from scoring the rest of the way as the Sun scored the final eight points of the game.
The Sparks finished the game shooting 32 percent from three-point range to go with 43.9 percent of their shots made from the field.
Nneka Ogwumike scored her third double-double of the season with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Mabrey scored a career and season high 14 points on 3-7 shots from three-point range with two assists and two rebounds.
The Sparks move to 2-2 on the season and the season series with Los Angeles and Connecticut is tied 1-1. The finale of this series will take place in August at Staples Center.
Los Angeles will look to have better momentum in their matchup against a new-look Minnesota Lynx team on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. PT.