Nneka, Toliver, Sparks Prevail Over Fever in Return to Staples

Photo by Brianne Ingram

Los Angeles, CA- Nneka Ogwumike finished with an exclamation point in her return from a left knee sprain by scoring a buzzer beater layup at the Staples Center on Sunday evening. 

Photo by Jevone Moore

Brittney Sykes threw a cross court pass in transition to Ogwumike. She scored to seal the deal as the LA Sparks (7-13) prevailed over the Indiana Fever (4-17) 75-70 in return to their home floor at Staples Center, and their first game back from the Olympic break.

The Staples Center crowd went berserk after the sound of the final buzzer.

“To be honest I knew it was like the end of the game, but I just wanted to finish the game,” said Ogwumike. “So, I’m just really glad that Slim passed that to me because I would have looked really stupid if she didn’t. For me it’s just kind of symbolic of me finishing things out. Just wanting to savor every moment. So, I’m glad that she passed it to me because I just wanted to put my stamp on that game with the energy that hopefully my team felt.”

Sykes commented on her assist to Ogwumike.

Photo by Brianne Ingram

“We joked about it in the cold tub, and I knew that if I didn’t throw it, it would have been a whole other story to talk about after the game. I saw the time … and I was like let me just lob it up enough where she can catch it, lay it up, and she got it. I was happy. That’s like a perfect way to end the game. Nneka and KT’s first game back. She deserved that layup.”

The 2016 WNBA MVP Ogwumike scored 12 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks.

Ogwumike expressed how she felt in her return from injury that kept her sidelined for most of the first half of the season.

“It feels great to be back. It always feels so good to be back in Staples Center. I just kind of entered this game with a mindset of wanting to have fun. I wanted to be able to do what I can for my team. I haven’t played in a long time. I’m just glad that I was able to help my team win.”

Kristi Toliver drives the lane.

Two-time WNBA Champion Kristi Toliver also made her return from an eye injury that she suffered against the Washington Mystics on June 24th. She had four points and six assists.

“We are a completely different team with those two on the court,” said Amanda Zahui B. “It’s a beautiful thing. It creates for everyone else. They just read the game and their IQ is really high. I’m just really happy.”

The LA Sparks were in control for most of the game with their biggest lead being 12 points.

There were six lead changes and seven ties, but the LA Sparks never allowed the game to get away from them.

Sykes led all Sparks scorers with 16 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and she reached her 1500 point career milestone.

“Cheers to 1500,” said Sykes. “I’m truly grateful.”

The LA Sparks returned to Staples for the first time since September 15, 2019, and won their 16th consecutive regular season game on their home floor.

The Sparks fans lit up with excitement as the WNBA resumed the second half of their season.

“For these people to come out and support us tonight and bring energy and bring noise, I do think our players felt and appreciated the fans tonight,” said Head Coach Derek Fisher. “And just being in this building. It’s a different kind of stage. I think you feel more like you’re in the big time when you’re in this building. We’re fortunate to get this win.”

The LA Sparks take on the Atlanta Dream on Tuesday, August 17th at 7:30 pm.