LONG BEACH — Connecticut Sun forward Chiney Ogwumike said the duo of her sister Nneka Ogwumike and Candace Parker used to be like Batman & Robin but that changed to Batman & Batman this season, and it was evident in Game 1 of the WNBA semifinals Wednesday between the Los Angeles Sparks and Chicago Sky.
Parker scored 30 points and Nneka Ogwumike, the reigning MVP, added 27, 10 rebounds and six assists as the Sparks cruised to 95-75 victory over the visiting Sky in the best-of-five series.
With Los Angeles ahead by just a couple of buckets in the second quarter, the duo began to shred Chicago’s interior defense, leading to a 52-35 advantage at the break. Parker had 19 points at halftime and Ogwumike added 13. The duo also combined to shoot 13-of-16 from the floor for the Sparks, who outscored the Sky 30-15 in the frame.
“Nneka is a fun player to play with,” Parker said. “Sometimes, I like to throw the ball up to see how high she can jump up and get it.”
Following the break, Ogwumike almost solely beat Chicago, notching 12 of the team’s 23 points in the third quarter. With 4:47 left in the period, Ogwumike blocked a jumpshot before turning it into a breakaway layup on the other end for a 63-46 advantage.
“We want to win,” Ogwumike said. “It’s one game at a time. It’s not going to be easy and we know that. Chicago is a great team so we have to gear up, see how we did today and get ready for Friday.”
Parker scored the Sparks’ last seven points of the quarter for a 75-61 lead with 10 minutes left to play.
Jantel Lavender scored seven of her 12 points in the fourth, where Los Angeles never felt any real pressure of a comeback by Chicago. Parker shot 11-of-15 from the field and Ogwumike made 11-of-14 shots.
Jamierra Faulkner led the Sky with 13 points and Cappie Pondexter added 12. Elena Delle Donne did not play due to a thumb injury.
The series will continue Friday in Los Angeles before heading east to Chicago.