LAFC use fast start to defeat Columbus Crew SC

June 23, 2018 Los Angeles, CA. MLS 2018: Los Angeles Football Club vs Columbus Crew SC at BANC OF CALIFORNIA Stadium in Los Angeles, Ca on June 23, 2018. Rick Gurrola

Los Angeles, CA- By the time the first half was half over, LAFC already held a 2 goal lead and that’s all they would need for a 2-0 win over Columbus Crew on Saturday night.

“It was a great win,” said LAFC head coach, Bob Bradley. “Get off to a quick start like that at home, it’s a good feeling.”

LAFC earned a free-kick in the 4th minute of the game. LAFC’s Laurent Ciman stepped up and ripped a 30-yard hopper that skipped by the keeper for a goal. The shot went left of the Columbus Crew free-kick wall and bounced next to the right goal post for LAFC’s 1-0 lead.

“I felt confident in taking that free-kick and getting it towards goal,” said Ciman.

Just 4 minutes later, the home team would strike again. Adame Diomande was just milometers from being offside, but Lee Nguyen shot him a leading thru ball and Diomande did the rest from 5 yards out.

“It is easy for me to come in and work when you know the playing style,” said Diomande.

Diomande and Nguyen were one of the last players added to the LAFC roster and have connected for some scored on the pitch.

“I just feel like we have a connection,” said Diomande. “We talk a lot on the field and I’m glad we have that connection already and hopefully we can get better.”

LAFC will be back in action Saturday when they host Philadelphia Union.

Total Team Effort Helps Wings Route Sparks

Arlington, TX – Azura’ Stevens had a good old-fashioned coming out shooting affair, as the Dallas Wings enjoyed routing the Los Angeles Sparks Friday night.

The rookie started for the first time and she didn’t disappoint the largest home crowd of the season. Every move Stevens made in the first half was made with sure confidence. She crashed the boards. She hurried to the opposite end of the floor in hopes of capitalizing on fast breaks. Stevens even shot with great poise from the three-point line. She split her four attempts from distance and wasn’t afraid to show her emotion. Her teammates celebrated right along with her.

The Wings set the tone on defense early and controlled the pace of the first half, leading by as many as 17 points. Despite two early first quarter fouls, center Liz Cambage scored 14 first half points and secured five rebounds.

Allisha Gray contributed 11 first half points. Starters Skylar Diggins-Smith and Kayla Thornton only managed two points respectively in the first half, but their defensive presence and 10 combined assists proved to be incredibly helpful for the Wings.

At one point the Sparks cut the lead to three points, but the Wings capitalized on hustle plays. At the half, the score was 47 – 33 in favor of the Wings.

The Sparks were determined to not let Diggins-Smith run all over them Friday night. They double teamed the star point guard and stuck to her like glue with every move she made. Diggins-Smith, however, didn’t allow the aggressive defense to stop her from finding her teammates. While her shot attempts were limited to just two, she finished the game with eleven assists.

“I complimented Skylar,” said Coach Fred Williams at the end of the night. “The other team keyed on Skylar a lot and she got rid of the ball when she needed to and it paid off for us.”

The Sparks attempted to make a second half run, but the Wings were simply too much. Everyone was involved in the Wings offensive scheme. Glory Johnson scored eight points. Aerial Powers exploded off of the bench with 16 points.

New arrival Cayla George even hit two three-point shots in her 12 minutes of play. Cambage completed her sixth 20-point game of the season.

The Wings appeared to have fun throughout the entire game. They shared the ball well and capitalized on the Sparks’ mistakes. Candace Parker was held to just nine points. Nneka Ogwumike was the only Los Angeles player to score double digits, with her 17 points.

Total team effort for the Wings resulted in total domination, as they defeated the Sparks 101 – 72.  The Wings (6-5) are scheduled to face the Sparks (9-3) again in Los Angeles next Tuesday.

Sparks beat Fever 74-55, Extend win streak to 5

The Sparks celebrate after the Indiana Fever vs Los Angeles Sparks game at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Ca on June 19, 2018. (Photo by Rick Gurrola)

Los Angeles, CA- It was a team effort in Tuesday nights win for the Los Angeles Sparks but Candace Parker lead the team with 15 points and 5 rebounds to defeat the Indiana Fever 74-55 (1-11).

Chelsea Gray chipped in with 14 points 7 assists and 5 rebounds.

“We know their record doesn’t show how good they are,” said Sparks superstar Candace Parker. “Indiana is a good team. We were able to pull through on the defensive end and get our offense going late”.

It’s the Sparks 5th consecutive win and boost their record to 9-2. LA holds the first spot in the western conference in front of the 10-3 Phoenix Mercury.

Without much time to practice in between games, the Sparks have patched up a bit of their offensive mistakes by gaining a bit more chemistry. Los Angeles committed a total of 47 turnovers in its previous 3 games leading up to Tuesday. The Sparks only committed 8 turnovers tonight.

“It’s a working progress for us,” said Sparks Elana Beard. “Unfortunately, we haven’t really had time to practice. A lot of it (improvement) has been film, conversations, but I have been really impressed how we apply those film sessions and conversations on to court play.”

The Sparks lead 35-33 at the half. Los Angeles opened up a ten point victory in the 3rd quarter but Indiana kept it close majority of the contest. The Sparks gained separation with under two minutes to go in the game when Gray capped off a 12 point run for Los Angeles to give them a 70-53 lead.

The Sparks are used to extending their win streak and ending their opponents. Last week Los Angeles ended Atlanta’s 3 game winning-streak. Indiana was coming off of its first win of the season.

The Fever were lead by Natalie Achonwa who had 13 points.

Los Angeles travels to Dallas for a 5 p.m. PT tip-off on Friday night.

Indiana Fever break into the win column over the Dream

Erica Wheeler going baseline against Monique Billings during the Atlanta Dream vs Indiana Fever at Bankers Field House on June 16, 2018 Indianapolis Indiana (photo by Andre Hollis / fi360 New)

Indianapolis, In- They always say there no place like home.  Bankers Fieldhouse was just what Indiana Fever need to break into the win column for their first victory of the season.

The Fever didn’t just win they flat out dominated the Atlanta Dream 96-64. A breakout third quarter put this game out of reach.

With three rookies the Fever never know who’s going to be hot as the team is still feeling each other out.  Tonight Victoria Vivians lead the way scoring 21 points, with five three pointers.

Fever rookie Kelsey Mitchell poured in 19 points, with 5 assists on the night.

“We can’t turn this and make this the one we win,” Mitchell said. “I can make this our pick-me-up for the rest of the season.”

They finally put together a complete game and it showed, coaches words this season were not in vain.

“It was just nice to get the first one out of the way,” Fever coach Pokey Chatman said. “It wasn’t just holding onto the win. It was nice to sub people and the momentum continued in all phases of basketball.”

It took them 11 games to taste the sweet taste of victory, but most games this season they always fought hard.

“That’s the franchise,” Erica Wheeler said. “If you look up Indiana Fever, you always have teams of dogs. That’s what we got. We just need to get over the hump.”

The credit goes to the defense holding the Dream to 37% shooting from the field and 20% from behind the arc.

Now it’s time to build on this win and begin to rack up a few in a row even on the road.

“I was telling Ms. Beth that we work our tail off to trust the process and a little of our hard work finally pays off,” Mitchell said. “Not that it’s dramatic that we win, but it is because we’ve been on a drought. To get a win, it feels good.”

Sparks end 5 game homestand with 72-64 win

during the Atlanta Dream vs Los Angeles Sparks game at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Ca on June 12, 2018. (Photo by Rick Gurrola)

Los Angeles, CA- The Los Angeles Sparks have major improving to do if they want to end the season hoisting up a championship trophy and former champion Candice Parker is admitting to that.

“We just have to be decisive with the ball,” said Parker. “If we are going to run then we have to run, if we are going to set it up then we have to set it up.”

The Sparks committed 16 turnovers but managed to pull off a 72-64 victory over the Atlanta Dream. LA ends its 5 game home stand with a record of 4-1 and now it the road for two games.

In the first half, until the final 3 minutes it was a competitive, back and forth game.  Parkers 13 points in the first half and a couple of buckets by Chelsea Gray helped the Sparks separate to head into the locker room with a 43-32 lead.

LA extended its lead to 14 in the third quarter with a Gray lay-up but that’s as far as it would go. Atlanta clawed its way back into the contest in the 4th quarter. A shot by Atlanta’s Imani McGee-Stafford cut the Sparks lead 61-55 with 5:08 remaining in the game.

The game wasn’t yet in the bag for the Sparks until there were only 41 seconds remaining. LA guard Odyssey Sims took the ball hard to the paints and made a pretty floater over two Dream defenders to give the home team an 8-point lead.

“We did a heck of a job and played solid defense,” said LA’s Essence Carson. “That’s really what we are focusing on, just getting stops.”

Parker finished with 18 points, Nneka Ogwumike racked up another double-double with 11 points and 10 boards. Gray had 7 assists for the Sparks tacking on 10 points.

Wings Lose First Home Game

Arlington, Tx – The Dallas Wings were in the lead against the Phoenix Mercury for most of Tuesday night’s competition. In a bizarre turn of late game events – the team suffered its first home loss of the season.

In recent games, point guard Skylar Diggins-Smith has gotten off to quick scoring starts. Tuesday night she was held to just seven first half points and two assists. Forward Kayla Thornton was definitely the aggressor in the first half, throwing her body into just about every offensive and defensive play. Thornton had 10 first half points, made both of her attempts from three-point range, and she even collected six rebounds.

Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner led the Mercury through the first half, scoring 10 and 12 points respectively. While the Wings owned a 10 point first half lead at one point, the first half ended with a score of 40 – 37 to the Wings advantage.

“I thought we did (stay in the moment). We fought through a lot of things,” said Wings coach Fred Williams, “You can only go to the huddle so often and tell them to keep going through it.”

The tale of two halves continues to follow the Wings. In total the second half saw six lead changes. Diggins-Smith returned to her domineering drives to the basket and scored nine second half points. While Thornton and center Liz Cambage only combined for five second half points, the Wings welcomed a very assertive performance by Glory Johnson off of the bench.

We’re just trying to maintain the energy through the entire game,” said Johnson, “The goal is to make more at the end of the game….whatever it might be, we are just hitting that wall at the end of the game.”

Johnson was the recipient of two very well-directed assists from Diggins-Smith that led to late scores. Johnson’s 10 points, aggressive defense and strong rebounding are to be credited for keeping the game close well into the fourth quarter.

Sancho Lyttle and DeWanna Bonner contributed a combined 25 points and 16 rebounds to complete a balanced attack by the Mercury.

Emotions ran high in the close game, and there were indeed questionable calls. Both Diggins-Smith and Griner received second half technical fouls in separate incidents.

Phoenix outscored Dallas 24-13 in the final quarter, but the Wings still had an opportunity to tie the game in the final seconds. A broken final play led to a desperation heave by Diggins-Smith. The now (8-3) Mercury defeated the (4-4) Wings with a final score of 75-72.

LA Sparks take revenge on the Chicago Sky

Los Angeles Sparks forward Candace Parker #3 working on the block on rookie Chicago Sky forward Gabby Williams #15 during the Chicago Sky vs Los Angeles Sparks game at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Ca on June 10, 2018. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Full Image 360)

Los Angeles, CA – The Los Angeles Sparks take revenge on the Chicago Sky after Thursday big loss. Three days later the Sparks get back into the win column with 77-59 victory at Staples Center.

The low scoring game showed the balance and consistency the Sparks need to play with to rack up wins.

“Our goal is to be as consistent as possible,” said coach Brian Agler.

Sparks coming off a crushing loss at home to Seattle, it was very critical to start game with good ball movement and defense.

Candace Parker was aggressive earlier and often scoring 24 points, in 25 minutes.

Chicago coach Amber Stocks always has her teams ready to face her former team when it comes to the Sparks. But with few injuries and a slow start wasn’t a good combination.

“Moving towards the way we want to play is key,” said Chelsea Gray, “making sure defense is staying on point.”

The Sky was held to 28.4% shooting from the field, the backcourt was just not able to knock down shots.

After a loss in Phoenix the other day, the Sky knew they would need to lean on Courtney Vandersloot for big production.

Instead Sky power forward Cheyenne Parker was team leader with team high 17 points and 12 rebounds.

Sparks coming off a crushing loss at home to Seattle, it was very critical to start game with good ball movement and defense.

“A lot of it is about us,” said Candace Parker.

Everyone from the Sparks said almost the same thing, that they need to worry more about what they’re doing on both sides of the ball then their opponents.

“Our personality is based on our defense,” said coach Agler, “We placed a higher value on defense today.”

Let’s see if the Sparks can continue to be balanced a sharp at the point of attach on defense.

Next up the Sparks will host Atlanta Dream Tuesday June 12, at 7:30pm.

Indiana almost grounds the Wings if not for Skylar

WNBA 2018: Dallas Wings vs Indiana Fever at Bankers Field House on June8,2018 Indianapolis Indiana (photo by Andre Hollis / fi360 News)

Indianapolis, In – Inside, outside and at the charity stripe Dallas Wings Skylar Diggins-Smith could not be slow down. She dropped career high 35 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assists in the 89-83 victory over the Indiana Fever.

The Wings put together a complete game to keep the Fever out of the win column. With veteran Candice Dupree out with a sore knee let few others players minutes to get better.

The Fever lead the game for the first three quarters appearing to be on their way to a victory.

“It sucks because we’re fighting hard, It may not seem like it,” said Kelsey Mitchell, “And to fall short like that, just hurts.”

Rookie Mitchell led her squad with 26 points, 4 from behind the arc. Four players in all with double digits Tiffany Mitchell with 12 points, Natalie Achonwa 11 points and Stephanie Mavunga 10 points.

“We’re just trying to do anything that we can,” said Mavunga, “We have a really great mindset of getting better, really honing in on our offense and our defense.”

This team is still looking to catch a break, their hard work will give them the break they need soon especially shooting 50% from the field for a half.

“I told the player after the game that’s what effort and fight should look like for 40 minutes, regardless of score and situations,” said Fever coach Pokey Chatman.

When the fourth quarter started the Fever held a three point lead before the Wings took over with defense and scoring.

This is where the Fever needs to have that full mental game to push them till the finish.

I just thought that Indiana came out and really out hustled us tonight.  They are really putting things together,” said Wings coach Fred Williams, “They’re better than what their record shows.”

The Fever will travel to New York tomorrow to get ready for a Sunday manatee verse the Liberty and have another chance to get that elusive victory.

Sparks handed big loss 88-63 against WNBA’s hottest team

WNBA 2018: Seattle Storm vs Los Angeles Sparks game at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Ca on June 7, 2018. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Full Image 360)

Los Angeles, CA- After playing its first 3 games of the season on the road, the Los Angeles Sparks have now hosted 3 consecutive home games.

It was Pride Night at the Staples Center but it was the visiting Seattle Storm who played with a bit more pride tonight defeating the Sparks 88-63.

“We got our butts kicked,” said Sparks forward Candace Parker. “We give Seattle all the credit, the came out to play from the get go.”

The Sparks fall to 4-2 in the season and 2-1 at home.

It was a slow start offensively for the Sparks. Chelsea Gray was the lone offensive spark plug for the home team with 5 of the 9 points in the 1st quarter.

For the Storm, Breanna Stewart got off to a hot start. With 3:39 left in the 1st quarter Stewart made a 5-footer to give her 6 points in the quarter and extend the Storm lead 19-7.

Seattle was able to separate in the 1st quarter with the 3-point shot.  Alysha Clark, Jewell Loyd and Natasha Howard each had 3-point buckets go in for the Storm. Seattle led by as many as 15 points in the 1st quarter.

Los Angeles was unable to recover from its double-digit deficit. Nneka Ogwumike showed signs of brining the Sparks back to life. Ogwumike was active on the boards and was able to finish on second chances or create opportunities for her teammates. She finished with 8 points at halftime with the Sparks down 42-33.

“It all stemmed from quick shots and turnovers,” said Alana Beard. “We had nine turnovers at halftime, we average 11 a game.”

The Storm and Stewart blew open the game in the 3rd quarter. Stewart had another early 4 points to begin the quarter and give Seattle a 52-37 lead.

Seattle’s ball movement was enough to keep the Sparks on their toes and give them open shots.

“They were moving the ball, they were moving their bodies. They collapsed our defense,” said Parker. “They play the way we try to and they were the better team tonight.”

The Sparks will end their 4 game home stand this Sunday. They host the Chicago Sky at 2p.m. PT.

LAFC advance to round of 16 with win over Fresno FC

June 6, 2018 Los Angeles, CA. MLS 2018: Los Angeles Football Club vs Fresno FC at BANC OF CALIFORNIA Stadium in Los Angeles, Ca on June 6, 2018. Rick Gurrola

Los Angeles, CA- In its first year of existence, LAFC has had several historic moments, like the teams first MLS game, its first goal and its first home game. Tonight, LAFC made history once again participating in its first-ever Lamar Hunt U.S. Open cup match-up.

Major League Soccer newest addition stood tall and LAFC outlasted visiting Fresno FC 2-0 at Banc of California Stadium.

The home team had its chances in the first half but so did Fresno FC.

Fresno came out early proving it was going to be a battle for LAFC to advance onto the final 16.  In the first minute Fresno FC’s Christian Chaney struck a left footed shot that missed right, but woke up LAFC’s defense.

LAFC came out striping shots from outside the box. Shots by Adama Diomande and Latif Blessing couldn’t find the back of the net. The first half ended 0-0.

It took 53 minutes for LAFC to get on the board, but its goals came in bunches. The Uruguayan forward, who one day hopes to join his national team in the future during periods before the World Cup, got his name and team on the scoreboard. Off a corner kick, Fresno FC’s goalkeeper saved an LAFC header, but Diego Rossi was there to clean up the mess and tap the ball in for the 1-0 lead.

Three minutes later, the net would begin to dance once again for LAFC. This time it was Blessing, who had been sniffing and threatening to get on the scoreboard most of the match.

LAFC’s Lee Nguyen was threading defenders in the midfield and launched a gem to teammate Calum Mallace who had his shot blocked by a defender. Blessing came flying into the middle of the box to blast the rebound for LACF’s 2nd goal.

LAFC advances to the round of 16 and will find out its next opponent tomorrow afternoon.

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