Los Angeles, CA – The LA Sparks (5-5) played a rollercoaster of a game with twelve lead changes and one tie against the Phoenix Mercury (5-7) Wednesday night to reign victorious, 85-80, in Los Angeles.
Erica Wheeler stole the show to record her first career double-double dropping 18 points and dishing 10 assists.
With .08 seconds left in the final quarter, 5’7” Wheeler hit a clutch jumper over 6’9” Brittney Griner to seal the deal to create a 5 point lead, 85-80.
Wheeler had ice in her veins.
Phoenix tried to make a play, but Griner was charged with an offensive foul on a screen. They turned the ball over, and that was all she wrote.
Wheeler has proven herself to be an elite closer as she leads the league in clutch points.
“I’m a person and a player that likes pressure. That’s my life. That’s when I’m at my best. My coaches and my teammates believe in me. I definitely shot the ball with confidence,” said Wheeler.
The LA Sparks had a very solid performance as a unit. They had excellent movement without the ball, forced 11 turnovers, and simply maintained their composure no matter how many times Phoenix tried to make a run.
After Phoenix was down 10 points at the half, 53-43, their execution got them back in the game to lead by a point, 63-62, with 2:09 to go in the third quarter.
As soon as Phoenix thought they had a chance, the LA Sparks came storming back and erased any hope for their opponent.
Brittney Sykes drilled a bucket to tie the score at sixty-six with .44 left to go in the third quarter. She then came back down and hit another pivotal open jumper to retake the lead, 68-66, in the final possession of the third quarter.
The LA Sparks were unfazed and led all throughout the final period.
“We know that if we stay locked in, we can compete with anybody,” said Kristi Toliver.
The LA Sparks dominated the points in the paint to go for 40 and scored 23 second chance opportunities.
A key factor to that success was rebounding, as the team grabbed a total of 35 boards.
“Our perimeter players really stepped up and got some boards for us. We were thankful to get this win. Everyone gave us something tonight,” said Head Coach Derek Fisher.
Tea Cooper was out due to a one game suspension for leaving the sideline area, and running to an on court altercation last Saturday against the Minnesota Lynx.
The LA Sparks go for their second straight win against the Phoenix Mercury this Friday, June 18 at 7:30 p.m.
Washington, DC- Coming off two straight wins, the LA Sparks (4-4) fell to the Washington Mystics (4-5), 89-71, in the nation’s capital, Thursday night.
Unlike the first few games, the Sparks were unable to maintain the same defensive intensity.
LA is number one in the league in forcing turnovers (21 per game) but did not effectively apply the same defensive pressure against the Mystics (13).
Head coach Derek Fisher said after the game, “I think you have to give Washington a lot of credit. I don’t think it was a complete lack of effort. I think they just caused us more stress defensively. We weren’t able to be as disruptive and get some additional field goal attempts off of our turnovers, which is what we really need to be able to score consistently.”
LA shot 32.8% from the field and 34.8% from 3-point range. Washington had 18 assists on 30 made baskets, shot 42.3% from the field and 42.3% from the 3.
After trailing by 10 at the half, 35-45, LA’s defense began to show some life in the third quarter. They were taking charges, getting stops and trimmed the lead down to six, 42-48.
The Sparks were in striking distance, but second chance opportunities for the Mystics allowed them to extend the lead to 13, 58-45, at the 6:03 mark.
“We kind of spaced out a little too much, or we overhelped. We just have to keep it tight like we’ve been doing in other games where everybody is moving on a string. Once we get back to that, we’re good to go,” said Brittney Sykes.
The biggest lead was 24 points in the fourth quarter, 77-53.
“You have to really tip your cap to Washington. They were better than us tonight,” said Fisher.
Washington played with poise and kept them on their heels. There were no ties and LA trailed all game.
“This is part of growing as a group. At some point, you’re going to get knocked down and the best ones find a way to continue to chip away at it. Continue to fight the fight, and that’s what we have to do. We just have to figure out a way to take a look at some things tonight that we can do better and prepare ourselves to have a chance to win hopefully in Minnesota on Saturday night,” said Fisher.
With her first made bucket of the game, Amanda Zahui B. passed 500 career made 2-point field goals.
Erica Wheeler recorded her 600th career assist in the first half and made history to be 73rd all-time in assists.
All available Sparks players scored in Thursday’s game.
LA Sparks continue their road trip as they visit the Minnesota Lynx on Saturday, June 12 at 5pm.
12-TEAM PLAYOFF PROPOSED BYCOLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF WORKING GROUP Proposal Would Provide Greater Participation -First Step in a Long Process-
IRVING, Texas – A sub-group of College Football Playoff’s (CFP) management committee today presented a proposal to change the current four-team format to a 12-team event.
The proposal was made to the full CFP management committee and is the first step in a process that will not conclude before this fall.
“The four-team format has been very popular and is a big success,” the members of the four-person working group said in a statement. “But it’s important that we consider the opportunity for more teams and more student-athletes to participate in the playoff. After reviewing numerous options, we believe this proposal is the best option to increase participation, enhance the regular season and grow the national excitement of college football.”
The working group was appointed by their management committee colleagues and has met over a two-year period to discuss possible new formats. The proposal calls for the bracket each year to include the six highest-ranked conference champions, plus the six highest-ranked other teams as determined by the College Football Playoff selection committee. No conference would qualify automatically and there would be no limit on the number of participants from a conference.
The four highest-ranked conference champions would be seeded one through four and each would receive a first-round bye, while teams seeded five through 12 would play each other in the first round on the home field of the higher-ranked team. (The team ranked #5 would host #12; team #6 would meet team #11; team #7 would play team #10; and team #8 would meet #9.) Under the proposal, the quarterfinals and semifinals would be played in bowl games. The championship game would continue to be at a neutral site, as under the current format. The four members of the working group (Big 12 Conference Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey, Mountain West Conference Commissioner Craig Thompson, and Notre Dame Athletics Director Jack Swarbrick) presented their recommendation today during a virtual meeting of the full management committee that administers the CFP. The CFP management committee members are Mike Aresco, commissioner, American Athletic Conference; Bob Bowlsby, commissioner, Big 12 Conference; Keith Gill, commissioner, Sun Belt Conference; Judy MacLeod, commissioner, Conference USA; Jim Phillips, commissioner, Atlantic Coast Conference; Greg Sankey, commissioner, Southeastern Conference; Larry Scott, commissioner, Pacific-12 Conference; John Steinbrecher, commissioner, Mid-American Conference; Jack Swarbrick, athletics director, Notre Dame; Craig Thompson, commissioner, Mountain West Conference; Kevin Warren, commissioner, Big Ten Conference. The next step in the process is for the 11-member management committee to review the recommendation at its upcoming meeting in Chicago June 17-18. If the management committee endorses the 12-team proposal or reaches consensus on an alternative model or decides to retain the current format, it will forward a recommendation to the CFP board of managers, which will meet June 22 in Dallas. Members of the CFP board of managers include Eric Barron – Big Ten Conference (President, Penn State); Rodney Bennett – Conference USA (President, Southern Mississippi); Jim Clements – Atlantic Coast Conference (President, Clemson); Gordon Gee – Big 12 Conference (President, West Virginia); Jack Hawkins – Sun Belt Conference (President, Troy); Rev. John Jenkins – President, Notre Dame (Independent); Mark Keenum (chair) – Southeastern Conference (President, Mississippi State); Kirk Schulz – Pacific-12 Conference (President, Washington State); Satish Tripathi – Mid-American Conference (President, Buffalo); R. Gerald Turner – American Athletic Conference (President, SMU); Keith Whitfield – Mountain West Conference (President, UNLV). During the board’s June 22 meeting, it will review the recommendation from the management committee and decide whether to authorize feasibility assessments and potentially discussions with other entities that would allow for implementation of any altered format. If the board authorizes this summer study period, the board would meet again in September to review the results of the summer assessments and also the input from presidents, athletics directors, coaches, student-athletes and others. Any decision on changing the format would be made by the board. “This is a very exciting moment for college football,” the working group members said in the statement. “We think we can capture what student-athletes and fans love about the game and extend it to more people in more places, while enhancing what’s great about the regular season.” Bill Hancock, Executive Director of the CFP, said, “Now that the working group has presented its proposal, the management committee will solicit input from university presidents, coaches, athletics directors, student-athletes and others. That input will help inform what the management committee recommends to the ultimate decision-makers — the presidents and chancellors who serve on the board of managers. I do want to remind you that the final decision will be made by the board of managers, and that decision will not come before this fall.”
The date of implementation of a potential new format was not a part of the working group’s proposal and would be a matter considered if any recommendation is approved by the board of managers. Hancock said the format will not change this year or next year. The current agreements for the four-team CFP extend through the 2025-26 season.
Other elements of the working group’s proposal included the following:
While the playoff calendar is still to be worked out, broadly this is the recommendation:
First-round games would take place on campus sometime during the two-week period after conference championship games;
Quarterfinals would be played on January 1—or January 2 when New Year’s Day falls on a Sunday—and on an adjacent day;
Semifinals and championship game dates are to be determined; semifinals likely will not be played as a doubleheader.
The playoff bracket would follow the rankings, with no modifications made to avoid rematches of teams that may have played during the regular-season or are from the same conference;
The bracket would remain in effect throughout the playoff (i.e., no re-seeding);
The working group’s charge did not include deciding which bowls might be a part of the CFP in the future; however the group did recommend that if traditional bowls host games, teams would be assigned to their traditional bowls for quarterfinal games with priority going to the higher-seeded team;
All 11 games would be under the CFP umbrella, with the administrative specifications and the process for selecting the six bowls that would rotate as hosts of the quarterfinals and semifinals still to be determined.
-#CFBPlayoff- About the College Football Playoff The College Football Playoff matches the No. 1 ranked team vs. No. 4, and No. 2 vs. No. 3 in semifinal games that rotate annually among six bowl games – the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic, PlayStation Fiesta Bowl, Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, Capital One Orange Bowl, Allstate Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl Game. This season’s Playoff Semifinals will take place Friday, December 31, 2021, at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic and the Capital One Orange Bowl. The College Football Playoff National Championship will be Monday, January 10, 2022, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.
LOS ANGELES- Since June is Pride Month, the Boys in Blue are celebrating this wonderful moment with a night under the stars at Dodgers Stadium on Friday, June 11th. Combining all of the wonderful aspects of LA: Equality, inclusion, diversity and fireworks of course!
Our defending World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers will face the Texas Rangers, first pitch is slated for 7:10 pm. Eras have passed, attitudes regarding the LGBTQ+ have changed and improved. Baseball has always been there, this event seems to truly define the meaning of our National Pastime!
Dodgers have again teamed up with their long-time community nonprofit partner LA Pride to host their annual LGBTQ+ Pride Night at Dodger Stadium, presented by Blue Shield of California, on Friday, June 11th at 7:10 p.m.
This celebration of Los Angeles’ LGBTQ+ community will include drink specials in the pavilion bars, a special recognition of frontline workers from Los Angeles’ LGBTQ+ community and additional surprise guests featured during pregame ceremonies.
The fun also continues post-game with Friday Night Fireworks, set to music mixed by DJ Bowie Jane. A special event ticket package includes a ticket to the game and an exclusive Dodgers LGBTQ+-themed t-shirt.
June 11th will still have limiting seating. June 15th is the date when every seat will be available. Social distance will still be enforced- seating will be in socially distanced pods of 4 to 6 guests. Fully vaccinated guests may purchase up to 8 tickets in any section. You must provide a vaccine card and a negative COVID-19 test.
The National Anthem will be performed by VINCINT. For additional info visit: www.ladodgers.com/lapride
LOS ANGELES (June 4, 2021) – The Los Angeles Sparks announced today the signings of Kristine Anigwe and Karlie Samuelson under the hardship exception. Anigwe was first acquired by the Sparks prior to the 2020 season in a trade. In the WNBA bubble last season, she appeared in 17 games and averaged 4.6 points and 2.6 rebounds, while shooting 60.4% from the field in 11.6 minutes per game. She scored 8 points and grabbed 7 rebounds in the Sparks 2020 second-round playoff game. The 6-foot-4 center was the No. 9 overall pick in the 2019 WNBA Draft and was on the Sparks 2021 training camp roster.
“Kristine Anigwe provided valuable minutes for our team last season with her activity on both ends and ability to rebound,” General Manager/Head Coach Derek Fisher said. “Kristine will bring physicality and size to our frontcourt rotation.”
Karlie Samuelson rejoins the Sparks for the fifth time. LA first signed Samuelson in 2017 to a training camp contract but she missed the season due to injury. In 2018, Samuelson returned to Sparks camp where she earned a spot on the opening day roster. She shot 40% on 3-pointers in her first four games with LA before being released with overseas players returning. Samuelson was re-signed for the remainder of the season in June of 2018.
In 2019, Samuelson played three games for the Sparks on a seven-day contract and four games for the Dallas Wings. In total, she’s appeared in 27 WNBA games. Samuelson, the sister of Seattle Storm wing Katie Lou Samuelson, is an Orange County native and played at Stanford University.
“Karlie Samuelson is someone with WNBA experience who can provide outside shooting, has familiarity with our organization, and is a great teammate,” Fisher said.
ABOUT THE LOS ANGELES SPARKS Founded in 1996, the Los Angeles Sparks are one of three original franchises in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). The Sparks have won three WNBA Championships (2001, 2002, 2016), have qualified for the playoffs in 20 of their 24 seasons and remain the only active team in the league to win back-to-back titles. The Los Angeles Sparks are dedicated to ensuring each home game at Staples Center has a championship level entertainment experience while showcasing the best female athletes from around the world on the court. LA Sparks single game tickets for the Los Angeles Convention Center are available here for purchase.
Chicago, IL- Erica Wheeler relentlessly showed up in clutch moments to lead the Los Angeles Sparks to their second straight road win, 82-79, over the Sky in Chicago in overtime.
“We just keep getting better and better. We are working towards something super special, so to get this win is super glorifying,” said Wheeler.
With 12 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Wheeler blew by Diamond Deshields and drove to the basket to tie the game at 73.
It was anyone’s game in this nail biter. There were five lead changes and six ties.
The Sky were unable to provide an answer in regulation, so they continued to battle it out in OT.
Out of a Sparks timeout, Derek Fisher’s crew ran an Isolation play for Wheeler. She drove to the rim, scored a go-ahead layup, to give the Sparks a 3-point lead, 82-79, with 36 seconds left.
Astou Ndour-Fall had a decent look at the basket for Chicago, but it was off the mark as LA was able to fend them off and sweep the weekend series.
Wheeler’s aggressiveness radiated onto her teammates as they rallied and fought their way back after having a slow start trailing 14 points, 27-13, in the first quarter.
Chicago came out the gate with great energy playing as though they were seeking redemption from Friday night, but they were unable to pull through.
The Sparks’ disruptive defense carried over from Friday’s game, as they forced a total of 25 turnovers, converting 24 points from those turnovers, and were able to lock down the Sky defensively, flustering them on the offensive end.
The Sparks were able to persevere, show grit, and displayed some mental toughness when their backs were against the wall.
“I think it shows some growth for us. We are starting to turn the corner in that area and that’s a good sign. That collective grit, and accountability from player to player is what’s needed and that’s what the best teams have,” said Fisher.
As a team, the LA Sparks shot 41.1% from the field, and 44.4% from 3-point range.
Four Sparks finished in double-figures as Nneka Ogwumike led the way with 21 points, grabbed 9 rebounds, and Wheeler dropped 17 points and dished 7 assists. Four players combined for 70 of the team’s 82 points.
Chiney Ogwumike was out with right knee soreness.
For the second straight game against LA, Former Spark Candace Parker was sidelined, still nursing a left ankle injury.
The LA Sparks continue their road trip as they take on the Dallas Wings on Tuesday, June 1st, at 5 p.m.
Chicago, IL – The Los Angeles Sparks (2-1) imposed their will defensively over the Chicago Sky (2-3) throughout the game as they forced 28 turnovers in their, 76-61, road victory.
Maintaining the momentum was an issue for Los Angeles in their first two games, however this proved not to be an issue at all for the Sparks in Friday’s matchup.
Head Coach Derek Fisher was asked during media availability how he thought his team could maintain the momentum in this contest and he said, “We have a really young second group of players. So we have to try from a rotation standpoint, to make sure that we are keeping some veterans and some anchors out there next to a couple of younger players to make sure that we do not lose our way too much.”
This proved to be effective indeed as the Sparks got into a rhythm early, and their defense quickly translated to offense. A transition bucket from Te’a Cooper lifted the Sparks over the Sky, 20-19, at the end of the first quarter, and LA simply never looked back.
In the second quarter, the Sky tried to make a comeback as Kahleah Copper scored 5 straight points to cut the lead to 2 points, 33-31, with about a minute left in the period. But the Sparks still refused to relinquish their lead and went up, 38-33, as they continued to carry their momentum going into the second half.
Los Angeles is a fairly new team who is still learning how to play with one another, but they were clicking on all cylinders on Friday night. They spaced the floor, had good ball movement, knocked down key jumpers, converted on their forced turnovers, and scored 32 bench points.
Nneka Ogwumike had 14 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 steals; Erica Wheeler scored 13 points, 6 assists, and 3 steals; Brittney Sykes finished the game with 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 steals, and Amanda Zahui B debuted with 8 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 steals.
But defense was the name of the game in this one.
Active hands from Sykes and Wheeler played a key role in rattling the Sky on the offensive end. “I want to win,” said Sykes in the post game press conference.
LA’s defensive intensity was simply unmatched. Chicago nearly gave up 30 points off of turnovers to LA, as the Sparks picked up 29 points off of the 28 turnovers.
The third quarter was crucial. This is where LA really began to pull away and led, 61-43, going into the fourth quarter. They did not let up the rest of the game.
Now, Los Angeles did not face a full Chicago roster as notable players missing from the Sky included Candace Parker (left ankle) Allie Quigley (hamstring) and Stefanie Dolson (Olympic qualifiers), so they were able to take advantage of their shorthanded opponent.
“The energy was great, and we just played together. We’re just going to build on the shot selection and really staying together on defense. So we’re just going to get better from this game and learn from it. It’s going to be a beautiful journey together,” said Amanda Zahui B in her debut.
The Sparks face off against the Sky again on Sunday, March 30, at 3 p.m.
DALLAS (May 27, 2021) — Bowl Season today announced the complete 2021-22 college football bowl schedule, which includes 44 games, beginning December 17. All games will be televised on the ABC and ESPN family of networks, with one bowl on CBS and another on FOX. Two bowl games still have networks and times to be determined.
Bowl matchups will be revealed on Sunday, December 5, following the regular season and conference championship games. Bowl Season culminates with the 2021 College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship, scheduled to be played on Monday, January 10, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on ESPN.
“We are thrilled to have a full slate of bowl games scheduled for next season,” said Nick Carparelli, executive director of Bowl Season. “Last year dealt us many challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but we have expectations that stadiums will be operating at full capacity again which will undoubtedly mean a memorable experience for student-athletes, fans, universities and communities. College football and Bowl Season is back, and we couldn’t be more excited.”
While many sporting events were cancelled last season due to the pandemic, 26 of the bowl games were able to remain scheduled and played, mainly due to the flexibility and cooperation of the conferences and bowl partners, and the dedication and commitment of the many players, coaches and team staff.
The complete 2021-22 Bowl Season schedule can be found on the next page.
### About Bowl Season Bowl Season is the collective coalition of the 44 bowl games played in the traditional college football postseason. Dubbed “A Celebration of College Football,” Bowl Season promotes the grand tradition of the bowl system and its endearing value to student-athletes. It also highlights the broader university and college communities, including spirit squads, marching bands, athletic staff and fans. A nonprofit, Bowl Season spotlights the distinctiveness of each of the bowl games along with their histories and traditions, embracing and honoring the bowl experience for present and future generations.
UCLA Athletics has hired Scott Markley as the Senior Associate Athletic Director, Communications.
Markley brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in strategic communications in three of the largest corporate brands in the world. A native of San Diego, he will be joining UCLA after working as Associate Director of Corporate Communications for Kellogg’s in Chicago, where he was a spokesperson responsible for directing the global communications strategy for the company’s corporate responsibility initiatives. He also served as a spokesperson for McDonald’s, where he directed a 10-person team representing the company on TV, radio and in print regarding all aspects of the business. Prior to that, Markley worked for three and a half years as Senior Manager, National Media Relations at Walmart and was a spokesperson for the Supreme Court of the United States from 2006 to 2014.
As UCLA Athletics’ primary spokesperson and strategic communicator, Markley will serve on the senior staff of Alice and Nahum Lainer Family Director of Athletics Martin Jarmond. He will advise senior administrators and head coaches on communications matters and oversee the athletic communications department, including social and digital media initiatives.
“We are excited to bring Scott to Westwood,” Jarmond said. “Scott brings a distinct perspective to our athletic department and has a strong history of commitment to service and engagement with constituents. His ability to promote and highlight the stories of our talented student-athletes will be very positive for our program.”
Markley graduated from San Diego State in 2005 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a minor in Economics.