Chicago, IL – The LA Sparks (1-0) flew right over the defending champions of the Chicago Sky (0-1) in a thrilling 98-91 overtime victory on Friday’s opening night of the WNBA’s 26th season at the Wintrust Arena.
WNBA champion and recent signee Jordin Canada balled out by tying her career high with 21 points including 17 points in the fourth quarter and overtime combined. She added a game-high tying eight assists and shot perfectly from the line going 9-of-9 in her debut in a Sparks uniform.
Sky guard Dana Evans fouled Canada while she was shooting at the top of the key with 1.5 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Canada was cool as a cucumber as she iced three huge free throws to tie it at 88 to send the game into OT and was aggressive down the stretch to seal the win for her new team.
She shared some advice to kids on how they can improve their free throw shooting.
“I worked on my free throws before and after shootaround today. So, I think it’s just locking in. Repetition is everything.”
Canada’s championship experience was on full display.
“We believe that she was capable of having these types of performances more consistently throughout the season if the opportunity was there,” said LA Sparks head coach Derek Fisher. “She’s played with a great player in Seattle her entire career. That’s the pros and cons of sometimes winning championships and having a role on championship teams. Maybe you don’t always get a chance to show what you can do. We’re really happy for Jordin that she is getting this opportunity to show how much game she really does have and how she can help lead teams to victory herself being out there in the fourth quarter and overtime making big plays and big shots. I’m really happy for her.”
Even with Canada leading the show, the LA Sparks really displayed a team effort especially from their bench.
As for the starters, Nneka Ogwumike went for 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting, while Liz Cambage added 12 points, four steals, and two blocks. Do everything guard Brittney Sykes finished with nine points, four steals, four assists and two blocks.
Nneka commented on what this win says about their newly formulated team to come out and win this game on the road.
“We’ve experienced a lot of changes in the last few years, but I think this was just a perfect example of how we’re just going to keep everything in house. We have an energy that we just want to continue to bring every night. There’s so much more that we could do better, but I think we’re starting off well because everyone is on the same page, and everyone is buying into this culture that we have. That leads to good basketball. That leads to us having fun especially against great competition like Chicago.”
Former Sky guard Lexie Brown came off the bench on fire and went 4-5 from three to put up 12 points.
Also off of the bench, Chennedy Carter scored 12 points and Chiney Ogwumike had eight points and six rebounds in her first game in her comeback season since being injured the majority of last year.
The Sparks were getting out in transition in the first half, and this is where they were at their best.
Coming off of a wave of roster cuts, the Sparks started off with a shaky start in the first quarter, but began to figure it out as the game went on.
It was a tight game with nine ties and 16 lead changes.
This contest marked the first time that 2-time WNBA champion Candace Parker faced her former team because she was injured last season when the two teams played each other.
Parker scored 21 points, six rebounds and six assists.
The Sparks swept the Sky 3-0 last year in the regular season, and are currently on a five-game winning streak against Chicago.
The LA Sparks continue their road trip and will take on the Indiana Fever for their second game of the season on Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 8th at 12 p.m.