It was a tale of two halves for both the Los Angeles Sparks and the Minnesota Lynx, with the Lynx pulling away in the second half for a 67-52 win.
The Sparks have been without their star, Nneka Ogwumike, for all three of their games this season and tonight were missing another leader, Alana Beard, who sat with an injury. Despite being shorthanded with only 8 players available to play, Los Angeles had a successful first half and jumped out to an early lead.
Jantel Lavender lead the Sparks in the first quarter scoring 6 points and grabbing 4 rebounds. Minnesota got off to a slow start committing 4 turnovers and 8 fouls in the first quarter.
A large part of those turnovers were illegal screens and offensive fouls. Rebekkah Brunson picked up two quick fouls and was forced to sit the remainder of the quarter, while Maya Moore committed two early ones as well.
Brunson and Moore were not the only players in foul trouble, the Sparks Farhiya Abdi who moved into the staring lineup replacing the injured Beard racked up 4 fouls in just 13 first half minutes of play. Fortunately for the Lynx Seimone Augustus kept them afloat scoring 12 of Minnesota’s 23 first half points.
"For us, it was a bit of a struggle in the first-half with our offense," said Lynx Coach Cheryl Reeve.
Despite the shorthanded circumstances, Los Angeles headed into the locker room at the half holding a five-point lead in large part because of their post presence, Lavender, who tallied eight points and seven rebounds.
And while the first half was owned by the Sparks, the second half belonged to Minnesota. It was only a matter of time until the League's first-place team took the lead.
Minnesota looked like a different and much better team in the third quarter. The Lynx scored 23 points in the third, which equaled their point total in the entire first half. All five starters scored for Minnesota in the third, led by Maya Moore with 9 points, as they shot 47% from the field.
"We were much more efficient as far as executing our offense, spacing, and making extra passes" said Moore.
In the fourth and final quarter, it was all Lynx, as they continued to extend their lead. Los Angeles struggled defensively giving up 21 points. The Lynx continued to share the ball, finishing the game with 25 assists as a team.
Moore and Augustus combined for 42 of the 67 points scored in the game. Despite their struggles Agler and the Sparks are optimistic about the future: "We’re getting better defensively. We just have to be more fluid offensively, which we will be soon."
Those same words, Agler expressed to his team after the game. Lavender took away many positive aspects from the game.
"Our first half I thought we were really aggressive," said Lavender. "I thought we showed a lot of effort and everyone played together, we looked like a team. We have to take care of that third quarter."
The Sparks fell to 0-3 on the season and the Lynx improved to 4-1.