Notes/quotes: Los Angeles gets first win of season, beats San Antonio 86-81

Thursday night the Los Angeles Sparks earned their first win of the season beating the San Antonio Stars, 86-81, at Staples Center. The win marked the beginning of a three-game home stand for the Sparks (1-7). They meet the Stars again July 8 in San Antonio.

  • The biggest lead for the Sparks was five points in the fourth quarter after the lead changed seven times.
  • They dominated in the paint, outscoring the Stars 50-42.
  • Nneka Ogwumike celebrated her 25th birthday with a season-high 27 points and seven rebounds, while Jantel Lavender finished with her fifth double-double of the season with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
  • Temeka Johnson’s three-pointer in the fourth lifted her to the 2500 career points milestone, finishing the game with 2502 career points.
  • Kristi Toliver made her season debut at Staples, contributing 15 points, two rebounds and two assists. Guard Erin Phillips returned to the starting lineup after a four-game absence due to a right knee sprain and finished with seven points, three rebounds and three assists.
  • The Sparks set new quarter highs and lows in the game:
  • First quarter points  – 12 season low
  • Second quarter points – 26 season high
  • Neither team scored from beyond the arc in the first half for the first time this season.
  • Ogwumike and Lavender combined for 23 of the Sparks’ 36 first half points.
  • The Sparks scored at least 80 points in a game for the second time this season after scoring 80 in an overtime loss against Washington 6/23.
  • Los Angeles set new season highs in attempts and made free-throws connecting on 21 of 23 attempts.

Stars Notes:

  • The Stars couldn’t hold on to a game-high12-point lead and lost 86-81 to fall to 2-8.
  • Dearica Hamby lead the Stars with a season-high 19 points
  • Guard Danielle Robinson dished out a career-high 13 assists.
  • The Stars shot 17-31 (.548) from field in the first half, the most the Sparks have allowed in the first half this season
  • San Antonio connected on a tied Sparks opponent high 33 field goals made and most points in the second quarter.
  • The Stars 14 turnovers were the most by a Sparks opponent this season.
  • San Antonio’s 23 defensive rebounds is a new opponent low for the Sparks.


Los Angeles Sparks

Sparks head coach Brian Agler

On the Sparks’ first win:

It feels great, but it really feels great for the players. They have been working so hard on the practice court. Things have not been going our way so far this season and to get this win today shows a lot about our character as a team; how we hang in together and focus on the things we can control. We dug down deep down the stretch of the game; we made plays, and won the game. “

On season performance:

Christie [Toliver] is a huge part of that as we are able to put the ball in her hands and make some great plays for us down the stretch of a game. And Nneka [Ogwumike], after being out for over a month, played with a great sense of composure and made huge defensive plays in the second half of this particular game to help give us our first win.”

On Jantel Lavender’s performance:

She has definitely been our most consistent player for us this year. She is playing with poise, she is finishing off at the rim, and she is defending, so overall, really happy about her performance thus far.

Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike

On getting a win on her birthday…

Absolutely. This is what I wished for last night. I’m just very happy. Very proud of my team. We can’t waste this moment. We have to enjoy it, and we have to roll with it to get the win tomorrow too.”

On what was different today than the last few games…

“It was the energy, absolutely.  I think that everyone maintained their aggression for the full four quarters and we also understood that we needed to get stops in the second half.”

Sparks guard Kristi Toliver

On being back in Los Angeles…

It feels good.  It’s always good to play in front of the home fans and be back in the gym.  I’m really just embracing every moment that I’ve had so far whether it’s playing in Madison Square [Garden] or playing at USC in practice or playing here.  I’m really just trying to enjoy every moment, but it’s always special being home.”

On her mentality to returning to the team…

To contribute. To be a piece. No one person is going to make or break this team. So I came in with that mentality as far as just do your part. And that’s what I’m trying to do. Whether it’s scoring thirty, or whether it’s getting everybody excited for a fourth quarter run. There are many ways to contribute, and I am very mindful of that. I just want to be able to contribute in any way I can.”

Sparks center Jantel Lavender

On her rebounding tonight…

I go when I see an opportunity mostly. They weren’t really boxing me out super hard, so I saw so many opportunities to go in there and get some cheap baskets.”

San Antonio Stars

Stars head coach Dan Hughes

On the game:

“Tonight’s game went back-and-forth. Offensively, both teams were very efficient. It was a good basketball game and Los Angeles [Sparks] made the plays that were the difference in the game.”

On Dearica Hamby’s performance:

“[Dearica Hamby] was great. We kind of threw her in the fire. She’s been playing some big minutes with this basketball team. She’s got a bright future ahead. We’ve put her in situations where she’s faced some tough competition. She faced Nneka [Ogwumike] tonight and faced Brittney Griner the game before. She’s learning in the league and showed good presence today. She battled well today and has been all season.”

Stars forward Dearica Hamby

On fast start of the game:

“I hit a few of my shots early to give me some confidence to begin the game.

On difference between college and professional basketball:

“Mentally, it is different. I’ve got some good teammates here and they help me out a lot.”

Stars guard Danielle Robinson

On tonight’s game:

“We just lost out composure in the end. We fought hard but our mistakes at the end of the game proved to be the difference. It’s a tough loss.

On moving forward:

“We just need to get healthy. We’ll watch some film and see what changes need to be made. We just need communicate with each other better and figure out what tweaks need to be done before next game.”

By the Numbers

Points in the Paint: Stars 42, Sparks 50
Second Chance Points: Stars 6, Sparks 12
Fastbreak Points: Stars 8, Sparks 2
Biggest Lead: Stars 12, Sparks 5
Lead Changes: 10
Times Tied: 11

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