In their home opener, the Los Angeles Sparks started strong against the Dallas Wings but could not maintain their momentum throughout the game. The accurate shooting efforts of guard Arike Ogunbowale and forward Allisha Gray overwhelmed the Sparks 94-71.
The 2021 WNBA overall pick Charli Collier secured a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds in the matchup.
Despite the loss, the Sparks got 27 turnovers on the Wings, resulting in 23 points; 20 of those turnovers happened in the first half. In the first quarter, the Sparks relied on points in the paint and secured six second-chance points.
“I think overall, we felt good about our activity in the first quarter,” said Sparks head coach Derek Fisher. “We didn’t convert on the turnovers as much as we should have.”
Center Chiney Ogwumike had been working on her three-point shot in the offseason and went 2-3 from downtown during the contest.
“I am glad that I was able to trust in myself a little bit more to play a little bit of what I’ve worked towards,” Ogwumike said. “That was new territory for me but hopefully not new anymore.”
While Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike scored 12 and 18 points respectively, other players on the Sparks’ roster struggled with their shot. Meanwhile Gray scored 12 points in the second quarter alone, the Sparks only scored 14 in the same period. Nneka mentioned how this game was “a learning experience.”
“Dallas came to play, we buckled under pressure … we have a lot of work to do,” she said. “It’s not how anybody wants to start a season, let alone the 25th, but it certainly draws a line for how far you want to go and how much better we want to get.”
The team is expecting more out of guard Te’a Cooper as she embarks on her sophomore season. She noted how she should have gotten more comfortable playing alongside her teammates during the contest.
“What I could do differently is finish my shots, keeping the energy on the defensive end and then just pushing the ball … feeling our energy and going off that,” Cooper said.
The day before the Sparks’ season opener, the documentary “144” premiered, which documented the experience inside the WNBA Wubble in Bradenton, Florida last season. Upon a request from Nneka, Chiney worked to get a camera crew in the Wubble in order to make the documentary possible.
Chiney was elated at how viewers realized the documentary humanized WNBA players.
“For the story to not just be about hoops, but also something bigger than basketball,” she said. “People understanding that these women are strong, but also vulnerable, that human aspect that people are talking about, that makes my heart sing.”