On Sunday, Los Angeles Sparks guard Riquna Williams scored a team-high 23 points to help her team to a 76-71 win over the Atlanta Dream. But the Sparks will be without her services in today’s camp day matchup against the Dallas Wings. On Tuesday, the WNBA announced its decision to suspend Williams for 10 games following its investigation into her April arrest on charges of domestic violence involving a gun.
To help fill the Riquna Williams-sized void, the Sparks announced Thursday that they have signed guard Karlie Samuelson to a seven-day contract. Samuelson last played for Great Britain in the 2019 FIBA EuroBasket tournament where she helped her team to the semifinals with 11.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game.
The Dallas Wings roll into L.A. having lost three games in row. Last time out — well, yesterday — the Wings dropped a game to the Phoenix Mercury on the road. The Mercury did not do amazing things to snag the 69-64 win and the Wings made it a battle from start to finish, including seven lead changes and 10 ties.
Imani “Thick Mani” McGee-Stafford had 11 rebounds against the Mercury last night. If she can keep that double-digit action on the boards against the Sparks — and if one of the starters joins rookie phenom Arike Ogunbowale in double-figure scoring — the Wings should feel confident in their ability to keep it close and eke out a win.
It won’t be easy, though. The Sparks will miss Williams’ scoring but guard Chelsea Gray, who recorded a triple-double this month and was named an All-Star for the third-straight year, gives any team winning possibilities. Plus, Nneka Ogwumike is playing well — she steadily tallied a double-double on Sunday with 17 points and 15 rebounds. And rookie Kalani Brown continues to do big things off the bench: She contributed 12 points on Sunday.
The Sparks have an experience-based edge but the Wings are not without a chance.
Los Angeles Sparks (9-7) vs. Dallas Wings (5-12)
When: Thursday, July 18, at 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles | TICKETS
How to watch: NBA TV, Spectrum SportsNet, NBA TV CANADA
Keys to the match: The Wings’ disadvantage is the schedule. This is an early game, on the road, in a different time zone and the second of a back-to-back. Fatigue could be a factor for Dallas. The Sparks, meanwhile, will be without Williams, with Samuelson possible to play. L.A. will have to make adjustments and overcome any mental fatigue from the Williams mess.