Nia Coffey,Chiney Ogwumike lead Sparks past Aces in scrimmage – Daily News


By all accounts, the Sparks’ first warmup went well: Led by Nia Coffey’s 20 points, they beat the Las Vegas Aces 80-71 on Sunday in a scrimmage on the road.

The Aces fielded a nearly full roster except for point guard Chelsea Gray, the former Sparks’ star who signed with Las Vegas during free agency.

L.A., meanwhile opted not to play veterans Nneka Ogwumike, Kristi Toliver and Seimone Augustus. Also, Kristine Anigwe was out in accordance with health and safety protocols. That all gave Coach Derek Fisher more time to evaluate the hopefuls competing to make the 12-woman roster ahead of the May 14 season opener.

Bria Holmes, like Coffey an athletic wing with multiple seasons of WNBA experience, added 10 points in her first game in a Sparks uniform.

And after opting out of the bubble last season, Chiney Ogwumike started and finished with eight points.

“Chiney deserves a tremendous amount of credit for getting out there and playing and playing pretty good for someone who hadn’t played basketball since 2019,” Fisher said of the Sparks’ younger Ogwumike sister, a former No. 1 pick who has established herself off the court as an analyst and radio host for ESPN.

“A lot of people have and continue to question whether this is really what she wants to do and loves to do, because of her success off the court. That’s something that women — and women of color in particular — always battle, right? To show people that they’re more than one things, that she can actually be good on the court and also have a brand and have a platform off the court that people recognize and respect.”

Fisher said he was pleased with his team’s pace, a focus of the first week of camp, even if execution remains a work in progress: “To find a way to get to 80 is a pretty good sign, that we can play at a pace that will be good for us.”

And he was most enthused about Coffey’s contributions.

“She’s shown us all week that she has the ability to impact the game at multiple levels and multiple ways and that’s what she did today,” he said of the 25-year-old wing who played for the Aces in 2018 and whose younger brother, Amir, plays for the Clippers. “Not just about the points, just competing and playing hard and emptying her tank to do everything she can do to help the team win. Those are the kind of players we want on our team.”

Erica Wheeler and Jasmine Walker scored eight points apiece in their Sparks debuts. Sydney Wiese and Amanda Zahui B. finished with 7 points, Brittney Sykes had 5, Te’a Cooper added 4 and Stephanie Watts scored 3.

The Sparks will host the Aces in a preseason game May 8 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.




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