Los Angeles-When the Los Angeles Sparks selected Nnemkadi Ogwumike as the first overall draft pick in this year’s WNBA Draft, they knew they were getting a big-time player. In just one of playing professionally after a standout All-American career at Stanford University, Ogwumike has proven just how much of a big-time player she is and will be in the future.
During the past four weeks Ogwumike proved it by playing stellar basketball and being name the WNBA Rookie of the Month. Ogwumike averaged 13.8 points and 5.8 rebounds in games during the month of May. She proved her worth last night when she hit the game-winning shot with 2.1 seconds left in the game to give the Sparks a 67-65 win against the Seattle Storm at Staples Center.
The win pushes the Sparks to an overall record of 5-1, and solidified their second place spot in the Western Conference. The defeat drops Seattle to fifth place with a 1-4 mark for the season.
Guard Kristi Toliver poured in a game-high 23 points and dished out seven assists, while Candace Parker added 16 points and 13 rebounds to pace the Sparks to the win. Despite scoring just 10 points in the game, Ogwumike came through when her Sparks’ teammates needed her down the stretch.
Ogwumike scored four of the Sparks last six points in the game, including the off-balanced jump shot she converted as time was running out.
“I think it is real special,” Ogwumike said. “Each game it is a different person. The last game it was KT (Kristie Toliver). The game before that we had a big game from Candace (Parker), myself, DeLisha (Milton-Jones) and Alana (Beard). I think I’m just really happy to have gotten the” W.” That’s all I’m really concerned about.
“Our coach told us these big games, especially the Western Conference games, are especially important. A lot of the experience with Stanford-in those type of situations-it’s anybody’s ball, really. And so, I actually kind of thrive in those situations. I don’t get nervous or anything. I just do what my teammates need me to do.”
Ogwumike is used to doing things in a big way, so it’s not really any surprise she nailed the game-winning shot. Since coming into the league the reigning Pac-12 Player of the year, Ogwumike has been a dominant game-changer for the Sparks. Not only does she bring additional height to the Sparks’ talented frontline, Ogwumike also brings youthful athleticism and high energy to the team.
On that last shot, Ogwumike looked determined to take the shot, Milton-Jones said.
“She was opened initially, but decided to aggressive and go to the basket,” Milton-Jones said. “There was contact and she was able to finish. She hit the shot. It was a great moment for us. We really needed that basket.”