LOS ANGELES, CA-In a highly anticipated rematch of the 2017 WNBA Finals between the Los Angeles Sparks and Minnesota Lynx, L.A. struck first. Leading 27-19 with under six minutes left in the second quarter, five-time All-Star Candace Parker scored inside to ignite the crowd.
A Maya Moore miss led to Chelsea Gray leading the fast break. Gray dished a Showtime-like no-look pass to Nneka Ogwumike for an easy layup and the Lynx were forced to call a timeout to halt the momentum.
Despite the Lynx playing a much more competitive second half, L.A. pulled away with an easy 79-57 win. Parker dominated from start to finish with 23 points and 10 rebounds. “We were all attacking and playing under control,” Parker said.
Ogwumike (15 points, six rebounds) and Chelsea Gray (18 points, nine assists with zero turnovers) were also major contributors for the Sparks. “We were getting stops and have so many weapons in transition,” Gray said. The Sparks scored nine points in transition on four-of-five shooting.
Minnesota’s Sylvia Fowles, the 2017 WNBA MVP, after a slow start, played strong throughout the contest, finishing the game with 14 points and eight rebounds. 2018 All-Star Game MVP Maya Moore scored eight points in 25 minutes. Sparks forward Alana Beard held Moore to just four-of-seven shooting from the field.
Cecilia Zandalasini opened second quarter scoring for Minnesota with a corner jump shot. Fowles came alive early in the quarter with a few buckets inside. The Lynx outscored L.A. 21-20 in the second, but still trailed 40-29 at the half.
Parker scored 10 points in the first five minutes of action, while Moore scored three early buckets for Minnesota. The Sparks continued to dominate early, leading 20-8 after the first quarter. The Lynx shot just 25 percent for the quarter and only found offensive success through Moore.
Minnesota’s Seimone Augustus netted back-to-back hoops during the first few possessions of the third quarter. Each time the Lynx crept back within single digits, L.A. hit right back. Leading 49-41 midway through the third, Essence Carson nailed a three-point shot for the Sparks. Firing on all cylinders, L.A. extended their lead to 13 by the end of the third quarter.
Minnesota shot 41 percent from the field, but just 10 percent from behind the three-point line. The Lynx outrebounded the Sparks, 35-30, but committed 14 turnovers. The lead only changed hands once, when Minnesota took a 2-0 lead off of a Moore basket moments into the game.
The Sparks improve to 16-11 after the huge victory, and have surpassed the Lynx for the third best record in the league, second in the Western Conference. “One day you’re in second, the next you could be in eighth,” Ogwumike said. “We have to be able to take care of business.”
Blake Atwell is a multimedia journalist and sophomore at Santa Monica College.