There was a lot to celebrate for the Sparks on Sunday afternoon against the Connecticut Sun.
“Fierce,” was the word that Chiney Ogwumike used to describe the Sparks celebration of women in their fifth annual #WeAreWomen Day.
The #WeAreWomen campaign honored many women who continue to break barriers and are trailblazers in their respective paths within the areas of business, sports, entertainment, politics, community service, and more. Los Angeles held a brunch and panel that featured six women in the sports and entertainment space for guests to enjoy.
“This has the feeling of the biggest game of the year just because #WeAreWomen symbolizes everything about our league,” Ogwumike said about the importance of this special day and game.
The panelists for the event consisted of six women within sports and entertainment on different levels featuring the Sparks Team President and Chief Operating Officer Danita Johnson, sports agent Allison Galer, from the Esports world Kristin Connelly and Naz Aletaha, and the Vice President of Marketing & Content of Vision Venture Partners Eryn McVerry.
The Sparks also had six different finalists for their #WeAreWomen honor for this year and the winner, LaWanda Hawkins, was announced at halftime.
In the five years that it has been running, this campaign continues to build women in the community and young girls with this platform.
“When we come together, we can be powerful,” Johnson said. “That’s the magic of #WeAreWomen.”
Off the heels of these festivities in the morning, there was a game to play against the visiting Connecticut Sun.
“No matter what, we’re here for a purpose and basketball is part of our purpose and then to empower our community is another piece,” Johnson said about the day’s cause being intertwined with the game.
Sparks scorch the Sun
Los Angeles went on to defeat the Connecticut Sun 84-72 in front of a 17,076 sold-out crowd. In their second game with their full roster, the Sparks were able to compete at a high level against another top team that they may likely face down the road in the playoffs.
Connecticut came out aggressive in the first quarter dominating from the three-point range shooting 57.1 percent. Los Angeles then began to utilize their defense to get stops while their offense later followed.
Once the second quarter hit, the game went back and forth with neither team backing down. The Sparks began to find their groove as shots finally fell and they kept up their defensive pressure on the Sun. The game really started to heat up towards the end of the first half with the Sparks tying the game at 39 apiece.
As the shot clock was winding down, 5’7 Riquna Williams hit the corner fadeaway three-pointer over 6’6 Jonquel Jones right at the buzzer. This was just the beginning of what was a good afternoon for Williams.
“I’m a little quicker than them — so normally when post players are guarding a guard, it’s like their worst nightmare,” said Williams who had nine points on 3-4 threes at halftime to lead all scorers for the Sparks.
From the second quarter and onwards, the Sparks dictating how the game would go from the defense to the patience that they had on the offensive end.
The momentum that was building for the Sparks continued into the second half. The Sparks sustained their defensive pressure on the Sun and were able to extend their lead. They outscored the Sun 23-13 in the third quarter.
From mishandling the ball on the offensive end in the first quarter, the Sparks corrected that and were able to maintain discipline at that end of the floor the rest of the game. Chelsea Gray, Nneka Ogwumike, and Williams all hit double figures in the third quarter to keep the Sparks ahead.
While Williams continued to have her big night, Ogwumike and Gray had some big moments in the third quarter. Both connected on a behind the back assist from Gray with Ogwumike’s finish past a crowd of defenders to extend the Sparks lead.
The Sparks held on in the fourth quarter despite being outscored 20-19. A once 16 point lead with about a minute left in the game dwindled to 12 with free throws from Connecticut’s Brionna Jones and a floater by Courtney Williams.
For the Sparks, Williams finished with 21 points on 5-8 threes and two rebounds. Nneka Ogwumike reached 4,000 points in the first quarter — she had 16 points and eight rebounds in the game. Candace Parker had 13 points, five assists, and two rebounds. Gray had 12 points, five rebounds, and six assists.
“I’m just so happy that we won on #WeAreWomen day because that’s the biggest gift we can give,” said Chiney Ogwumike about the outcome of the day.
The Sparks have now won 14 of their last 18 games.
Los Angeles will test the strength of their full roster on the road as they travel on a three-game road trip before finishing the last leg of the regular season at home. Los Angeles (18-10) will play the Washington Mystics (21-8) on Tuesday at 4 p.m. PT on ESPN2.