Los Angeles Sparks Gazes Past the Stars in Preseason Matchup, 73-59
PASADENA, CA -- Following their two-game road trip, the Los Angeles Sparks returned to California to close out the preseason schedule with a home game against the San Antonio Stars at Pasadena City College.
The LA Sparks were finally able to grab a victory in a 73-59 defeat over the Stars. Rookie Mikaela Ruef led the Sparks in scoring with 18 points coming off the bench, while Odyssey Sims added 12 on four for eight shooting. The visiting Stars had only one double-digit scorer for their team, Isabelle Harrison, who contributed 22 points.
In what appeared to be a home game away from home, the reigning championship team played fiercely while displaying courage to show that they are ready to defend their title, even with he core of their veterans not playing.
The game started off slow, but became fast-paced quickly as the San Antonio Stars were the first on the scoreboard, but two back-to-back layups by Riquna Williams and Tiffany Jackson-Jones put the Sparks ahead. The entire game went to the wire as the Stars made attempts to fight back into the game with a tie within three minutes later, but Williams responded with a three-pointer to put the Sparks up, 9-6 as they never trailed again for the remainder of the game.
Not only was this the team's first win of the preseason, but also the first time seeing Sims, Williams and Chelsea Gray, who just returned from overseas, reunited back on the court together. Sims and Williams are both newcomers to the roster. Williams suffered a strained back and sat out the first two games of the preseason.
LA Sparks Coach Brian Agler described the feeling as "happy" when asked about all three players playing together. Los Angeles was once again playing with veterans Candace Parker, Alana Beard, Essence Carson, Eneka Ogwumike and Jantel Lavendar, mostly absent due to playing basketball overseas in Turkey.
Sims describe the team's focus as preparing and getting better everyday. "We can't worry about who's not here," she said. "We have to worry about the team we have now and play."
With the loss, the Stars ended the preseason with a 1-1 record, playing without top rookie Kelsey Plum, who sprained her ankle in practice and not having seven other players suit up including three of their starters from last season.
After the game, the Sparks cut Ah-Ra Go to put their roster count at 17. May 12 is the last day for WNBA teams to finalize their rosters and make final cuts.
Heading into the 2017 season, the team is led by WNBA 2016 Finals MVP Candace Parker, WNBA MVP Eneka Ogwumike, Sixth Woman of the Year Jantel Lavender and First-Team All-Defense Alana Beard. Their first season-opener will be inside STAPLES Center on May 13th as they host the Seattle Storm. The Stars will open up with a visit against the New York Liberty.