Saturday, October 24th, 2020

In her own words: Kristi Toliver on breaking Lisa Leslie’s record

Published on July 4, 2015


Kristi Toliver.

Kristi Toliver.

Even as she was competing last month for the Slovak Republic in the 2015 EuroBasket Women competition, a tournament that qualifies teams for the Olympics, Los Angeles Sparks guard Kristi Toliver was paying rapt attention to her WNBA team back home.

The Sparks started the season on a seven-game skid, a dismal beginning largely due to the continued absence of Candace Parker (resting up after a winter season in Russia) and injuries to starting forward Nneka Ogwumike and guard Alana Beard. Late last month, guard Erin Phillips also suffered a right knee sprain that kept her out of a few games.

Toliver stayed abreast of her team’s progress, even posting Twitter updates about games, as she watched Sparks matchups via live streams and game replays.

“I was watching every game,” said Toliver Friday night after breaking the franchise record for points in a game vs. Tulsa. “I wanted to be as big of a part as I could be. I knew just from watching, there were ways that I could come and contribute immediately. Whether that was on the offensive or defensive end, I knew I was going to have to be aggressive because of all the injuries we’ve had. I knew they were going to need my scoring on a night-in and night-out basis. I was doing my homework while I was [overseas] and trying to stay engaged. When I first got here, my mentality was to be aggressive.”

In her three games since returning from overseas, she has scored in double digits each contest, starting with a previous career-high of 30 in a loss at New York on Sunday, June 28.

In the Sparks’ first win of the season Thursday night, an 86-81 victory over San Antonio, Toliver finished with 15 points.

However, she knocked it out of the arena last night with her 43 points along with nine assists to break a previous mark set by Sparks legend Lisa Leslie.

After the game, the Staples Center announcer asked Toliver about her new record and all she could muster was “it feels good.” However, later in the locker room postgame, after she had time to let some of the night’s events sink in, she elaborated.


What did her coach, teammates and opponents have to say?

Sparks head coach Brian Agler

On whether he knew she was on track to break Leslie’s mark

“I had no idea what the record was, I had no idea of how many points she had after the game other than I knew she had quite a few. She’s a great player. I measure that because she is not one dimensional. As you know she got nine assists.”

On her performance overall

“She’s just a very skilled basketball player. She is aggressive, confident, and in great shape. We are excited she is back.”

Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike

“Kristi is spectacular. Sometimes, it’s a distraction because you end up watching her and you realize you have to get back on defense, but she’s amazing. It’s not just offense that she impacts but it’s also defense. She’s smart and she’s a veteran who is really easy to talk to and reads the defense really well. I’m excited that she’s on my team.”

Tulsa head coach Fred Williams

“You expect the Sparks to really come out on fire like they did, but Toliver played a hell of a match. She shot the ball very well. She was on rhythm. We trapped her and double-teamed her. She just found a way to score. When you have a player like that you just try to find a way to feed off her and I thought the Sparks did a good job of feeding off of her.”



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