The Los Angeles Sparks earned their third consecutive win, defeating the Washington Mystics 81-64. With a 6-3 overall record, the Sparks are in a three-way tie with the Chicago Sky and the Minnesota Lynx at third place in the WNBA.
The reigning WNBA champions the Washington Mystics are 3-6 and only had nine healthy players. Forward Aerial Powers is out with a hamstring injury and guard Kiara Leslie is enduring an ankle injury.
Guard Riquna Williams came off the bench to lead the Sparks with 13 points and center Candace Parker made nine rebounds. Washington guard Ariel Atkins led all scorers with 20 points and reigning Finals MVP Emma Meesseman made 11 rebounds.
Los Angeles earned a 22-point benefit from the Mystics’ 22 turnovers. They also kept their turnovers down to 12.
“I think it’s really important for us. We tend to get a little bit risky with the basketball,” said Spark head coach Derek Fisher. “We want to make the home-run plays and that’s not necessarily for us to do.”
Ariel Atkins scored the first seven points of the game while the Sparks could not land their shots. A jumper from Seimone Augustus started an offensive run for the Sparks, pulling them from a four-point deficit to a 10-point lead.
“I think the draught is representative of us being able to stay focused and even when things aren’t necessarily going our way,” said Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike. “I think what’s most important is that throughout those runs, we keep getting stops.”
The Mystics could not find their shot as the Sparks started the second quarter with a 6-2 run. Los Angeles shot at 52.9 percent during the phase, allowing them to pull away from Washington. Guard Te’a Cooper and Brittney Sykes carried the momentum.
During some rotations, the Sparks had up to four guards on the floor at once.
“I think it’s awesome because it’s easier to guard on the perimeter when you can switch and talk and rotate any kind of way,” Cooper said. “With Seimone (Augustus) being the four, it makes it way easier to just be able to switch guard to guard because she can guard anybody.”
At halftime, the Sparks were ahead 47-34 by halftime. Washington guard Ariel Atkins scored 16 points while center Candace Parker grabbed nine boards by this point.
Washington endured foul troubles as forward Myisha Hines-Allen was benched after earning her fourth foul. Midway through the third quarter, forward Emma Meesseman went on a eight-point run; she ultimately made 12 points in the matchup.
Cooper and center Kristine Anigwe played for the entire fourth. The physical gameplay of Anigwe garnered a hard shove from Hines-Allen and a foul call. She finished the game with four fouls. Fisher said that she plays with “energy, intensity, [and] passion.”
“I really like playing physical, I think I get energy from doing that,” Anigwe said. “It just helps my team.”
The Sparks will battle the Indiana Fever on Saturday, August 15 at 11:00A.M. on ESPN.