Chiney Ogwumike got the awkward reunion handshakes out of the way last week when her former team, the Connecticut Sun, came to the West Coast to play the Los Angeles Sparks.
Now the forward will deal with the anticipated hostile reception Thursday night when Ogwumike plays her first game as an opponent at Mohegan Sun Arena as the Sparks seek a second win over the Sun.
Ogwumike – the No. 1 overall pick by the Sun (3-1) in 2014 – was dealt to the Sparks (2-1) for a first-round pick in 2020. The trade reunited her with her sister Nneka, and the pair were teammates collegiately at Stanford before going their separate ways in the WNBA.
The younger Ogwumike gets there will be a smattering of boos upon her return, but perhaps more because she was a key contributor in Los Angeles dealing Connecticut its lone loss thus far, a 77-70 Sparks victory Friday in which she had 20 points and seven rebounds.
“It’s a unique place to play, Mohegan,” Ogwumike told The Associated Press. “You’re a former UConn player, you get celebrated. I’m not a UConn player, I’m a former Connecticut (Sun) player. I don’t know if I’ll get the Lindsay Whalen treatment. I’m not afraid of a couple boos if people are feeling that way. If people are showing emotion and boo or cheer, it means they care. I’ll roll with the punches.”
Los Angeles followed up its win over the Sun with a 78-73 victory at New York on Tuesday when Chelsea Gray scored eight of her career-best 29 points in a game-changing 10-0 run that erased a five-point deficit. She also had four assists – reaching 500 for her career – and hit 4 of 7 from 3-point range.
Connecticut bounced back from its loss to Los Angeles and split its two-game road swing with an 80-74 victory at Las Vegas in what some felt could have been a playoff preview. Courtney Williams scored 19 points, and Jonquel Jones added 16 and 13 rebounds for the Sun, with Jones and Jasmine Thomas combining for all nine points in a game-breaking 9-0 spurt.
The Sun forced 14 second-half turnovers as all five starters had at least two steals to help erase a 10-point first-half deficit. Williams stuffed the statsheet with eight rebounds, five assists, three steals, and a block.
Connecticut has won eight straight regular-season home games since a 78-65 defeat to Seattle on July 20.
(Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike photo courtesy Chiney Ogwumike official Twitter account)