Los Angeles, CA – Chicago Sky rookie Rebekah Gardner scored 18 points with 10 rebounds to help defeat the Los Angeles Sparks 80-68 on Thursday night at Crypto.com Arena.
“It’s hard because she wasn’t in the draft conversations,” Chicago Sky coach James Wade said on Gardner’s case for Rookie of the Year. “If she was in the draft, you would pick her. She’d be a lottery pick. She deserves to be in (Rookie of the Year) conversations, and she showed why tonight.”
Azura Stevens added 14 points and former Spark Candace Parker grabbed 11 rebounds as the Sky improved to 18-6 on the season. Parker was held scoreless for the first time in her career.
“This is a game that epitomizes the way she plays,” Wase said. “She doesn’t have to score to affect the game. Sometimes your shot doesn’t fall. We know she’ll make shots next game.”
Nneka Ogwumike, who led the Sparks with 16 points, eclipsed 5,000 career points and became the 23rd player in WNBA history to score more than 5,000 points. She joins Lisa Leslie and Parker as the only Sparks’ players to reach that milestone.
“I’m proud to have done it,” Ogwumike said. “Legacy is important for me. To be in company with Lisa and CP, that’s really huge. I’m grateful to be able to achieve that with a Sparks jersey.”
Los Angeles took a 17-16 lead at the end of the first quarter but were held to 11 points in the second quarter. They were able to get the deficit down to single digits but went into halftime down 37-28.
Chicago led by as many as 18 points in the second half and out scored the Sparks 52-31 in the second and third quarter. The Sparks went cold during that span, shooting 38.5 percent and turning the ball over 13 times. The Sparks will look to rebound from the loss when they host the Indiana Fever mom Tuesday, July 19. Chicago is back in action on Saturday against the Dallas Wings