Sparks sleep in airport before biggest game of the season against Connecticut Sun – San Bernardino Sun

LOS ANGELES — The Sparks were rewarded after a must-win 79-76 victory at the Washington Mystics on Sunday, with more than 12 hours of airport delays on their way back home to Los Angeles.

The Sparks, like all 12 WNBA teams, travel on commercial flights. They do not fly private except for rare circumstances in the playoffs. With the lack of availability of last-minute hotels, several Sparks spent the night on airport benches after their cross-country flight was delayed, delayed again and eventually canceled at 1 a.m. EST.

“We are roaming the airport, first time in my 11 seasons that I’ve ever had to sleep in the airport,” said Sparks All-Star forward Nneka Ogwumike in a video posted to Twitter at 1:46 a.m. EST. “Based on travel, it’s not unexpected that this has happened. It was basically, it was only a matter of time, so half of us are sleeping in the airport, half of us are at a hotel.

“They’re weren’t enough rooms after our flight got delayed, delayed, delayed, delayed and then canceled at 1 a.m. EST… so it is now 1:44 a.m. and we’re here to 9 a.m.”

By 9 a.m. EST, the Sparks were finally en route to Los Angeles but without a good night’s rest for several team members, including Ogwumike, who is the president of the Women’s National Basketball Players Association (WNBA Players Union), the team could face an uphill battle against the Connecticut Sun, who are a top-three team in the WNBA at 22-11 this season.

Connecticut beat the Sparks 77-60 in their only meeting this season back in May. They have been led this season by 6-foot-6 center Jonquel Jones, who is averaging 14.4 points and 8.6 rebounds and by 6-foot-2 forward Alyssa Thomas is averaging 13.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game.

At 13-20, the Sparks are 11th in the standings but still have an outside chance to earn a spot in the playoffs with three games remaining in the regular season. The Sparks are one game back from the seventh and eighth seeds, which are the final two playoff spots.

The Sparks went 1-3 on their four-game road trip but will end the season with a three-game homestand. They will host Connecticut on Tuesday and Thursday and the Dallas Wings on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Sparks guard Brittney Sykes, who made the 20221 WNBA All-Defensive First Team, is averaging 22 points over the last two games and her scoring punch will be key against Connecticut.

“I think no matter what our circumstances are, no matter how many we’re trying to get back when it comes to winning games, we always go out there and we compete and we play hard,” Ogwumike said in a post-game interview. “I think that’s what really keeps us going. We don’t have people that are quitting.”

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