Los Angeles, CA – Just less than three weeks ago, the Washington Mystics ran out the Los Angeles Sparks out of their own home in a near 30-point blowout. Shots wouldn’t fall. Turnovers fell apart the Sparks offense. Come Sunday afternoon it started to become deja-vu as the Sparks started 0-for-5 from the field and could not control the basketball. Nneka Ogwumike had a different direction she wanted this game to go, scoring at will and put the offense to a different level.
She scored 14 of her 31 in the first quarter, pushing the Sparks offense to right the ship and never trail from three minutes into the game. Revenge was in order after a dominant 98-81 victory.
“We were all glad that we were ready to shoot today,” N. Ogwumike said, “Wins into this part of the season are important since after the all star break the feeling is different. It was great to win like this being able to make our shots and have a great defensive presence.”
After trailing 4-0, Nneka knocks down two free throws and then a three from the right corner. After she got herself going, the rest of the team followed suit. Riquana Williams would then join the party with Nneka. Then the Sparks bench in the second. By then Nneka fed her shooting love to Tierra Ruffin-Pratt and Chelsea Gray that had the team eventually score at will.
“Our defensive pressure allowed us to score,” Gray said, “Working out our half court defense was able to set up our offense and be able to open up easy transition shots. As the game moved through we were more engaged in the game and had control.”
Last time around the Sparks only scored 52 points and committed 26 turnovers, dismantling momentum throughout the game. In the first 20 minutes, they knocked down 51 points and lost the ball just four times, six in total, which proved to be crucial as the Mystics kept up with their high-powered offense.
By the second half the Mystics seemed to lose a lot of their firepower, shooting just 4-for-20 in the third, with no response to the Sparks defense. Washington tried to make things interested as they cut the lead to seven with four minutes remaining. Back-to-back three balls by Williams ended all hopes of a comeback.
Williams finished with 19 points, including going 5-for-10 from three. Gray had 13 points while Ruffin Pratt closed the game with 12 points. Gray also managed 10 rebounds and 13 assists, becoming only the eight player in WNBA history with a triple double.
“I had a small feeling when I kept getting assist after assist,” Gray said, “It wasn’t on my mind, though. I knew I needed other things, but it wasn’t really a thought. It just ended up going my way.”
It has been a week since the Sparks took the floor. After a dominant win since sitting out for so long, they now hope to keep the ride along as they take the road against Dallas to start a three game road trip.