Rosemont, IL — Los Angeles wanted to sweep the city of Chicago on Sunday, but they were missing a key element to their game. The Sparks’ two heroes put in the work, but they were missing their secret partner in crime: Kristi Toliver.
Nneka Ogwumike’s sister, Chiney Ogumike, referred to the two heroes (Candace Parker and Ogwumike) on the Sparks as “Batman and Batman.” With two heroes on one team, one would think there wouldn’t be any space for another super talent. But Toliver is her own type of talent, a “Wonder Woman” of the Sparks.
Just like Wonder Woman, Toliver didn’t waste any time to get her name noticed alongside the competition Tuesday night. Toliver made the first jump shot of the night from behind the arc, keeping her streak alive of nailing a three-pointer in every game this season. Her quick eyes gave her team two assists to both Ogwumike and Alana Beard in the first quarter as well.
Toliver led her team with seven points in the first quarter and went into the locker room with 12 points. Her efficient shooting was flawless the entire night.
“She is a huge factor on the court,” MVP Nneka Ogwumike said. “It’s always lovely when she makes shots.”
Toliver is known to be a great shooter, but her defense tonight is what helped create the gap between the Sparks and the Sky. Toliver’s fast hands gave her team five of Los Angeles’ 13 steals on the night. With those steals, Los Angeles would go on to defeat Chicago by 20 points, 95-75.
“We all know she [Kristi] can shoot the ball. And she is amazing at it,” Batman #1 aka Parker said. “Looking at the stat sheet I am most proud of her five steals. That is huge for our growth.”
In the third quarter, the Sky tried to repeat the past with an explosive third quarter. Once again tonight their increased defensive pressure brought them within eight points of Los Angeles after being down by as many as 28. However, like Chicago had Courtney Vandersloot last Sunday, the Sparks had Toliver tonight.
As Parker and Ogwumike continued to dominate the paint, Toliver, (Wonder Woman) would creep silently towards the baseline in the corner for a wide open three — deflating Chicago’s comeback.
Every time the Sky would try to shorten the gap, Toliver would once again be alone somewhere in the corner and continued to make it rain in the All State Arena. She was on fire tonight, as she nailed four three-pointers.
Toliver ended the night as the second leading scorer for her team with 21 points. Her partners in crime, Parker and Ogwumike had 29 and 17, respectively.
“She is very interesting,” Ogwumike said with laughter. “It’s awesome [playing with her]. Just like CP, sometimes you get lost watching her.”
Toliver’s perfecting shooting didn’t stop at going 4-for-4 from deep or 5-for-5 inside the arc, as she calmly and confidently drained all seven of her free-throws. Thanks to her shooting and the help of Parker and Ogwumike, the game was sealed for the Sparks by the middle of the forth quarter.
“She is an incredible leader,” Ogwumike continued. “She sees the game great, and I think today was a great example of how obviously she is going to come into these next games and score for us.”
Los Angeles will fly to Minnesota to take on the Lynx in the Target Center on Sunday for Game 1 of the WNBA Finals at 3pm ET on ABC.