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May 16, 2024 12:36 am

Tina Charles leads Dream past Sparks in WNBA return

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Rhyne Howard’s game-high 25 points paced four Atlanta scorers in double figures, Tina Charles recorded a double-double in her return to the WNBA after missing the 2023 season, and the visiting Dream surged past the Los Angeles Sparks 92-81 in Wednesday’s season opener for both teams in Long Beach, Calif.

Atlanta (1-0) broke a stalemate that lasted most of the first three quarters, going on an 11-0 run to open the final period. Howard and Crystal Dangerfield combined for nine points in the pivotal stretch, with Dangerfield notching four of her six total for the contest in that run.

Los Angeles (0-1) ended its drought to open the fourth quarter on a Kia Nurse 3-pointer with six minutes to play — part of her team-high 23 points — but the damage was done. The Sparks could not cut the deficit to any fewer than six points the rest of the way.

In her return to the court after sitting out last season, Charles — the 2012 WNBA MVP — scored 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the floor and snared a game-high-tying 14 rebounds. Haley Jones and Allisha Gray joined her in double-figure scoring with 14 and 12, respectively.

With Charles leading the way, Atlanta posted an overwhelming 50-30 advantage for points in the paint.

Los Angeles countered from deep, hitting 12 of 31 from beyond the arc to Atlanta’s 8 of 17. Nurse went 5 of 11 from long range and Dearica Hamby, who finished with 20 points for Los Angeles, shot 2 of 4 from outside.

No. 2 overall draft pick Cameron Brink hit two of her three 3-point attempts en route to 11 points.

Brink spent much of the night in foul trouble, however, racking up two quick fouls and having to go to the bench midway through the third quarter for a long stretch after picking up her fourth personal. She logged 19:46 in total.

Fellow Sparks rookie Rickea Jackson came off the bench to score seven points but shot just 3 of 10 from the floor.

–Field Level Media

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