Coming into last night's game, the Sparks bragged an 8-4 record. All four of their losses came on the road to San Antonio, Phoenix, Minnesota, and Chicago. Despite their struggles on the road, home wins came easy. All eight wins this season came at home including a 30 point win over Minnesota, the runner-ups from last year's finals. So when the Sparks took the floor at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma last night, only one thing was on their mind: getting that first road win. And that's what they did.
In the early going, Kristi Toliver provided the offense for the Sparks. She hit 12 of her 25 points in the first quarter, giving the Sparks an early twelve point lead at the end of the quarter. She would cool off a bit in the second quarter, letting Candace Parker take over. Parker had 10 points in the second quarter and Toliver contributed 5. The Sparks went to the locker room with a 50-35 lead.
The second half went just as well as the first, with Parker and Toliver picking up from where they left off. Together, the pair scored 55 points, accounting for more than half of the Spark's points. The Sparks continued to dominate en route to a 94-78 win. Parker had 30 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists to lead all players while Toliver added an impressive stat line with 25 points and 4 assists. Parker and Toliver were the only two Sparks players in double figures with Jantel Lavender and Nneka Ogwumike coming close with 8 and 6 points respectively. Ogwumike added a game-high 4 steals to her 6 points.
"It's important to play well early," Parker commented. "We got in front early...we rebounded much better [tonight] and knocked down a lot of shots."
Knocking down shots is exactly what the Sparks needed. Without the dominate shooting of Toliver (10-14, 3-4 from the 3-point line), the Sparks may have been victims to another road loss. Second year coach Carol Ross had spoken to the fifth year pro before the game and gave her the green light. Ross was quoted as saying, "If you see daylight, shoot." Toliver took these words to heart and had one of her best shooting games of the season.
For the Shock, rookie sensation Skylar Diggins led the way with 19 points, breaking a shooting slump, and added 3 assists. Second year player Glory Johnson scored 11 points before leaving the game with a neck injury. She was taken back to the locker room to be evaluated, but came back to sit on the bench and watch with the rest of her team. No news was given about the injury.
The Sparks will play the second game of their two game road trip Sunday, July 14th at 3 PM. They will visit Brittney Griner and the Phoenix Mercury (8-6). Another road win would surely boost confidence levels and help the Sparks gear up for their home game against the East leading Atlanta Dream (10-2) on Wednesday, July 17th.