May 24th, 2024

Canada’s Nurse helps lift Sparks past Storm on home soil in WNBA pre-season action

By Steven Sandor, The Canadian Press on May 4, 2024.

Los Angeles Sparks' Kia Nurse (10) makes the pass as Seattle Storm's Victoria Vivians (35) tries to block during second half WNBA preseason action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 4, 2024.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

EDMONTON – Canadian Kia Nurse had nine points in 19 minutes of action as the Los Angeles Sparks opened their WNBA pre-season schedule with a 84-79 win over the Seattle Storm on Saturday at Rogers Place.

It was the second straight season a WNBA exhibition game took place and sold out in Canada.

Saturday’s contest comes on the heels of a sellout exhibition game at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena back in 2023.

There was an announced crowd of 16,655 that filled the arena.

Dearica Hamby led the Sparks with 17 points, nine rebounds and five assists.

Skylar Diggins-Smith paced the Storm with 14 points and five assists.

Cameron Brink, the No. 2 pick in the 2024 WNBA draft, scored her first basket as a member of the Sparks halfway through the first quarter. She was surrounded by her teammates after the layup as she strode to the bench during a timeout that was called shortly after the bucket.

Brink, who finished with 11 points, hit her first three-pointer 1:30 into the third quarter. The centre earned a large ovation for her rejection of Jade Melbourne’s layup attempt later in the second half.

With the Sparks leading 82-79 in the final minutes, the Storm had two chances to tie. But Melbourne air-balled her three-point attempt, and Kiana Williams’s three-point shot rimmed out.

Nia Clouden hit two late free throws to ice the game for Los Angeles.

On Saturday morning, the two teams conducted their shootarounds while the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers were on the ice at the Downtown Community Arena, which is part of the Rogers Place complex.

As Nurse saw the Oilers coming off the ice, they shared embraces. Her brother is Edmonton defenceman Darnell Nurse.

Kia Nurse said Edmonton is a special place for her because it’s the home base for the Canadian women’s national team and is also an Oilers fan.

“This is a really special arena,” she said. “I’ve been able to see Darnell play quite a few games here and to be able to have him and his kids come to the game today, that’s really special because I don’t get to see them as often since they’re always here when I’m home and vice versa.”

NOTES: The game began with a moment of silence for murdered and missing Indigenous women. Elder Myrna Yellowbird of the Samson Cree Nations offered a prayer “¦ when the national anthems began, only the Sparks players were on the court. The Storm players arrived late, after the American anthem was finished and “O Canada” had almost wrapped “¦ The WNBA has played two other pre-season games outside of the United States, in Monterrey, Mexico (2004) and Manchester, England (2011).

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 4, 2024.

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