Ogwumike’s double-double pushes Sparks past Sky, 79-70

Los Angeles – Following a 22-point performance against the New York Liberty last week, many wondered what Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike would do for an encore performance once her team returned home. The league’s reigning MVP didn’t disappoint, notching her first double-double of the season in leading Los Angeles past the Sky Tuesday, 79-70.

Ogwumike had 20 points and 11 rebounds, Alana Beard added 18 and Candace Parker scored 12 in the Sparks’ second straight win.

Los Angeles jumped out to an early five-point lead that they maintained throughout the opening quarter. Chicago then closed the gap early in the second quarter, narrowing the Sparks’ lead to two off a Courtney Vandersloot running layup. But the hosts ended the run there, closing the half on a modest 11-7 run while stretching the lead back to six points.

The two-point deficit marked the closest the Sky would get until midway through the third quarter. The Sparks opened the period shooting only 25 percent from the field, a mark that allowed the visitors to tie the game at 49 at the four-minute mark.

Los Angeles opened the fourth quarter with a run, and stretched their lead back to nine after back-to-back buckets from Beard and Chelsea Gray with 2:13 to go.

“It was a tough one,” Sparks coach Brian Agler said. “When you don’t shoot well from the field, it makes it look like you’re playing ugly. Defensively, I felt like we are making some improvements, and we’re moving in the right way. I like that part of it. We just have to be more fluid offensively.”

The Sky, meanwhile fell to 1-7 on the season with the loss. Their effort was led by Courtney Vandersloot and Allie Quigley who tallied 13 and 12 points, respectively. Stefanie Dolson also finished in double figures for Chicago, adding in 10 points of her own.

Dolson said there were positives in the loss.

“Were happy with how hard we played,” she said. “They’re a great team, but we just got to keep focusing on ourselves and keep pushing and playing together and keep the intensity as high as we can.”