By Johnni Matthews
The Los Angeles Sparks ended a tough three game road trip in New York on Sunday against the New York Liberty losing 79-70 in another hard fought battle with only eight players available to run on the hardwood. With All-Star, Nneka Ogwumike back from injury, starting her second straight game another veteran All-Star teammate, Kristi Toliver made her debut this season for the Sparks leading her team in scoring with a career high 30 points on 9-15 from the field. Oliver was 3-5 from the long range three ball and a perfect 9-9 from the charity stripe. Jantel Lavender, the most consistent Sparks player this season had another strong game with 14 points and 6 rebounds.
It was a very competitive game for thirty five minutes of the forty minute game as the Liberty took control in the last 5:07 minutes of the game. The game was tied at 63 a piece with 5:07 in the fourth quarter, but the Sparks had another melt down as the Liberty outscored the Sparks 16-7! As one Sparks commentator said, “The Sparks ran out of gas; their out of town and out of luck!”
Guard, Sugar Rodgers was special for the Liberty with a team high 23 points. Sugar got help from teammates, Tina Charles and Tanisha Wright respectively with 14 and 12 points.
The win kept the New York Liberty above .500 with a 5-4 record, while the LA Sparks head home 0-7 to get acquainted with each other and regroup to get ready for the San Antonio Stars who come to town on Thursday, July 2 to play the Sparks. It is a 7:30 p.m. tip off from Staples Center.
The Minnesota Lynx’s big three of Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen are difficult for any of the WNBA teams to deal with on a nightly basis, but the Los Angeles Sparks found out it’s even more difficult when you’re shorthanded of players! The Los Angeles Sparks had only eight players in uniform for their second home game in two days at Staples Center against the league leading Minnesota Lynx.
The Minnesota Lynx who are in a three way tie for the WNBA’s best record had to come from behind to earn the victory against the hungry winless LA Sparks. Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus combined for 44 of the team’s 67 points while point guard, Lindsay Whalen dished out seven dimes to her fellow teammates on their way to a 67-52 win over the Los Angeles Sparks.
The Los Angeles Sparks held a five point lead at the half 28-23, but the absence of veterans, Alana Beard, Nneka Ogwumike and a cold shooting Erin Phillips didn’t spell victory at the end of the game. Jantel Lavender continues to lead the Sparks offensively scoring a double with 12 points and 13 rebounds while center, Marianna Tolo shot 5 of 6 from the field to score 10 points. It was a tough shooting night for Erin Phillips only chipping in 6 points on 3 of 12 shooting from the field.
The Sparks actually outrebounded the Lynx 32-28, but the cold shooting from the field at only 39% compared to the Lynx’s nearly 53% shooting was the difference of the game. Neither team played aggressive enough to get any easy points at the charity stripe with just eleven free throws shot in the entire forty eight minute game! The Lynx shot 4 of 7 and the Sparks just 1 of 4.
The victory kept Minnesota Lynx 4-1 in a three way tie for league’s best record with the Connecticut Suns and the Tulsa Shock. The Los Angeles Sparks drop to 0-3 at the early stages of the WNBA season.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Sparks as they will have three days to prepare for another league leading team, the Connecticut Sun who comes to town, Sunday June 21st to complete an early three game home stand at Staples Center for the Los Angeles Sparks.