The Ogwumike sisters provided a lift for the Los Angeles Sparks in their first win of the season at Staples Center.
Los Angeles defeated the Connecticut Sun 77-70 behind the play of the Ogwumike sisters who combined for a total 39 points in Friday night’s game.
Ogwumike sisters combine to lift Sparks to victory
During the final two minutes of the game, both contributed to plays down the stretch to push the Sparks to the win.
With 1:19 left in the game, Chiney Ogwumike made the most of a second chance opportunity with a huge offensive rebound. Then, she followed that up with a layup and was fouled on the play. She made the free throw that gave Los Angeles the 72-67 lead over Connecticut.
With 40 seconds left, Nneka Ogwumike drained a three-pointer to extend the Sparks’ lead to 75-68.
This was Chiney Ogwumike’s first time playing her former team in the Connecticut Sun following the late off-season trade that reunited Ogwumike with her older sister in Los Angeles.
“It was fun. [You know] first game at Staples and playing against my former team. I don’t know how it was scripted,” Ogwumike said.
Ogwumike did not expect to compete against her former team so early in the season following the trade. But she enjoyed playing opposite her old teammates.
After a lackluster two-point performance in Las Vegas, Ogwumike more than exceeded that total in her second game. In the first quarter alone, she doubled it. She finished this game with 20 points, seven rebounds, and two assists.
Nneka Ogwumike also had a stellar night posting 19 points, 15 rebounds, and one assist. The elder Ogwumike scored the first points of the night for the Sparks on a jump shot.
Ogwumike hinted at some expansion of her play during the preseason that was revealed against the Sun. She is now a three-point shooter.
While playing in China, she was working on her ability to shoot from beyond the arc. She was previously not able to expand that part of her game but this season in Los Angeles is a different story.
Playing under new head coach Derek Fisher allows her to do so.
“This is the first time I have had a coach that encourages me to continue to play that way,” Ogwumike said.
Contributions from everyone on the roster
Though the Sparks were without Candace Parker (hamstring) and Alana Beard (leg), they were able to get contributions from everyone throughout the game.
Maria Vadeeva also had to miss the game due to the international obligations with Russia in the EuroBasket tournament, which finishes in early July.
Beard was a late scratch prior to game-time and Sydney Wiese replaced her in the starting lineup. Wiese played just under 30 minutes, and just like Beard, most of her great play did not show up in the box score.
Despite finishing with three points and four rebounds, Wiese was able to impact the game in other ways whether it was defensively or moving on the offensive end.
Chelsea Gray finished with 16 points, four rebounds and four assists. Riquna Williams had seven points. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt had five points, three rebounds, and three assists.
Collectively against the Connecticut Sun, the Sparks were able to create some cohesiveness with an effort from every player who touched the floor. That was much needed for Los Angeles when competing shorthanded against a Connecticut team who started their season off 2-0.
This was a needed bounce-back win for the Sparks as they gear up to begin their four-game road trip in New York against the Liberty on Tuesday.
The next home game for the Sparks will be against the visiting Liberty on June 15th.