The Los Angeles Sparks rapidly attacked the young Chicago Sky to hand them their fifth loss with a 77-59 victory. Offensive accuracy was key as the Sparks were shooting at 49.2 percent, but the Sky snagged 11 second-chance points and secured 14 offensive rebounds.
“We went to the boards hard, Cheyenne Parker and Gabby Williams led the way,” said Sky head coach and general manager Amber Stocks. “We are a talented shooting team and I want our players to continue to be confident in the work that they’ve put in.”
Sparks center Candace Parker led the team with 24 points and three blocks. Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike led with eight rebounds. Sky forward Cheyenne Parker earned her second double-double this season by leading with 17 points and 12 rebounds.
The Los Angeles defense devastated otherwise offensively sound shooters. Guard Allie Quigley, who leads the Sky with 17.2 points per game, was reduced to seven points. Rookie Diamond Deshields was held to four points although she averaged 13.9 points per game.
“You take away the person’s first and second move and then they come into a loaded defense,” Candace said. “That’s kind of our philosophy.”
The Sky struggled from behind the arc only shooting at 13 percent. This allowed the Sparks to have a consistent lead although they had more turnovers.
The Sparks prioritized defense early by forcing two turnovers in the first two minutes. Candace kept the defensive effort strong with two consecutive blocks, denying both forwards Gabby Williams and DeShields.
Close range shots gave the Sparks an edge, resulting in a 14-7 lead. By the end of the first quarter, the Sparks had 20 points in the paint with Candace leading all scorers with 10 points.
“I’m starting to see some real positive signs, especially with the defensive end,” said Sparks head coach Brian Agler. “If we keep things simple at the offensive end we can be difficult to defend.”
Chicago started the second quarter with failed possessions. Candace and Ogwumike enforced a 6-2 lead in the under four regulated minutes. Cheyenne helped Chicago roar back; her effort permeated as the Sparks struggled offensively.
The Sky went on a six-point run, coming within three points of the Sparks. Chicago also benefited from nine offensive rebounds, giving them nine second-chance points in the second quarter. A foul and a technical foul call on the Sky would give the Sparks free throw opportunities, scoring four points.
The Sparks finished the half ahead 38-31 against the Sky. Cheyenne had 12 points at this time.
“She was trying to get on the glass a lot,” guard Chelsea Gray said about Cheyenne. “we were going in rotations and we weren’t getting back in the paint so she was getting some put backs.”
The Sky’s second-quarter momentum diminished in the third, despite strong efforts from Cheyenne and DeShields. Chicago shot at 28.3 (17/60) and 7.1 (1/14) from behind the arc. The Spark’s Parker landed her third block of the game to run in a layup, giving the Sparks a 13-point lead.
“We were able to kind of put our focus a little bit more in getting more defensive rebounds in the second half,” said Ogwumike. “We can’t allow that many offensive rebounds.”
As the fourth quarter commenced with three Sparks players in the double-digits and one Sky player in the double-digits. The Sparks lead ballooned to as much as 22 points with points from guard Chelsea Gray and strong perimeter shooting by guard Essence Carson.
The Sparks will host the Atlanta Dream on Tuesday, June 12 at 7:30P.M.