Nneka Ogwumike leads Sparks’ rout of Sun
Nneka Ogwumike had 24 points and seven rebounds and the Sparks used a big third quarter to beat the Connecticut Sun, 90-64, on Sunday.
Jantel Lavender had 19 points and seven rebounds for the Sparks, and Candace Parker had 15 points and nine rebounds. The Sparks outscored the Sun, 30-10, in the third quarter.
Rookie Chiney Ogwumike, Nneka’s sister, had 18 points and six rebounds and Alex Bentley had 10 points, five assists and four rebounds for the Sun, which has lost seven of its last eight games.
The Ogwumike sisters, who played at Stanford, were facing each other in the WNBA for the first time.
The Sparks led by four points early in the second half when Ogwumike made two free throws, followed by a running jump shot.
Alana Beard, Ogwumike and Lavender each made a jump shot to give the Sparks their first double-digit lead, 54-42.
“All along I felt like if we played harder, we wouldn’t have been in so many of those close games,” Coach Carol Ross said. “We need to be able to finish out no matter what the score is. Today I was very pleased with our intensity coming out of the locker room at the half. I thought our third quarter is where we really imposed our will and played strong.”
Armintie Herrington’s 18-foot jump shot gave the Sparks their biggest lead, 84-53, with more than four minutes to play.
“They’re a bad matchup for anybody in the league,” Coach Anne Donovan said. “When they put Lavender into the starting lineup [at center] and put Parker permanently at the three, it’s a nightmare.”
It was the second consecutive victory for the Sparks, and only the second time they’ve won consecutive games this season.
“I think the biggest thing has just been the chemistry,” Lavender said. “It’s been two weeks now that we’ve had our full squad, so I think we’re just kind of getting our chemistry late, but we’re playing hard every game. So we know it’s about playing with energy and effort with the pieces we have.”
Bentley made two free throws less than a minute into the game to give Connecticut a 2-0 lead. It was its only lead of the game.
“We will talk to the [coaching] staff and we’ll try to figure out if maybe mixing things up from a personal standpoint will help,” Donovan said. “As a staff, we have to recognize what’s going on out there and if changes may or may not help us.
“It’s not foreboding. Don’t read anything into it. It’s the product of a game where we had a really horrible third quarter and we have to make sure we’re doing everything as a staff to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”
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