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WNBA: Sparks earn first win of season over Sky

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Nneka Ogwumike notched 14 points and nine rebounds and Erica Wheeler added 13 points and six assists as the visiting Los Angeles Sparks topped the Chicago Sky 76-61 on Friday night to earn their first victory of the season.

Brittney Sykes chipped in 11 points for the Sparks (1-2), who forced the Sky into 27 turnovers while committing 19 of their own.

Los Angeles seized control in the third quarter, outscoring Chicago 23-10. The game hinged on an offensive foul call against Chicago’s Kahleah Copper with the Sparks leading 47-39 with 4:55 remaining in the quarter. Initially whistled for a charge, Copper, following a review, was ruled to have committed a flagrant 1 foul against Kristi Toliver, as her knee made contact with Toliver’s stomach as Copper ascended for a layup.

Sky coach James Wade was called for a technical foul after disputing the call against Copper. Toliver swished each of the three ensuing free throws, and Chicago (2-3), which had a seven-point advantage in the first half, didn’t come within single digits the rest of the way.

Diamond DeShields (14 points), Ruthy Hebard (12) and Copper (11) finished in double figures for the Sky. Astou Ndour-Fall grabbed a team-high nine rebounds, one more than Hebard.

Sky fans had hoped to witness the home debut of Candace Parker, but the headline offseason signing missed her fourth straight game with a sprained left ankle. A native of Naperville, Ill., in west suburban Chicago, Parker spent the first 13 seasons of her career with the Sparks.

Fellow veterans Allie Quigley (hamstring) and Stefanie Dolson (Team USA 3-on-3 Olympic qualifier) also didn’t play for Chicago.

Recovered from a back injury that sidelined her for the Sparks’ first three games, Amanda Zahui B. made her 2021 debut, contributing eight points.

Los Angeles did much of its first-half damage through the frontcourt, with Ogwumike (nine points) and Sykes (eight) boosting the Sparks to a 38-33 lead at the break.

The Sky shot 41.2 percent compared to 39.4 percent for the Sparks.

–Field Level Media

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