Ogwumike lifts Sparks past Mystics

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Ogwumike lifts Sparks past Mystics

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Nneka Ogwumike scored 24 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the Los Angeles Sparks, who beat the Washington Mystics 101-70 on Monday night and improved to 5-0 at home.

The Sparks are off to their best home start since they went 7-0 in 2006.

Washington dropped its 12th straight road game, dating to a victory at Los Angeles on July 17, 2011. The 31-point loss was the Mystics' worst defeat of the season.

Ogwumike, the top pick in this year's WNBA draft, missed last Saturday's game to attend her graduation ceremony at Stanford. The Sparks (8-3) lost that game for their first two-game losing streak of the season, but they got re-energized in their third game in four nights.

Ogwumike went 11 for 14 from the field. Candace Parker scored eight of her 11 points in the third quarter and Kristi Toliver added 15 points and six assists. The Sparks benefited from 29 free throw attempts to 13 for the Mystics (2-6).

Michelle Snow led Washington with 15 points and seven rebounds, and Natasha Lacy added 12 points in a reserve role. Leading scorer Crystal Langhorne, who had scored 20 points in each of the previous three games, was held to a season-low two.

The Sparks opened the second half on a 12-4 run and pushed their lead to 21 when Ogwumike took a pass from a falling Marissa Coleman and scored on a layup to end the scoring in the third quarter. Ogwumike made a layup off a pass from Alana Beard pass in the lane and completed the three-point play to make it 84-54.

The Sparks led 44-36 at halftime thanks largely to 19 free throw attempts compared to six for the Mystics. Beard and Toliver went a combined 11 for 13 from the line in the first half, including four in the final minute to push the lead to 41-33.

Langhorne had no points and only two field goal attempts in the first half. Parker was held to three points on 1 for 5 shooting.

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Gruden knows that new parts on Redskins defense must gel quickly

Gruden knows that new parts on Redskins defense must gel quickly

Jay Gruden is going into his fourth season as the Redskins’ head coach. If there is one thing he has learned, it is the nature of his team’s fan base.

He was asked if he would need to be patient, getting the team’s defense, which will have as many as six new starters and several other key contributors who are new to the organization, to play well as a unit.

“I don’t think patience is in the dictionary here in D.C.,” Gruden said. “We have to be good now. We were 9-7 two years ago, 8-7-1 last year. I think the expectations are high and they’re always going to be high in this area and we have to perform.”

I’m not sure that most fans expect a Super Bowl win this year. But they do expect progress towards one and a slow start that results in the team being irrelevant after Thanksgiving will not be acceptable.

RELATED: Who are the Redskins' roster locks?

Gruden does have a tall task to get the defense to be effective quickly.

“We have a new defensive coordinator, new defensive line coach, new secondary coach,” he said. “We have some new players on defense, some free agent acquisitions, some draft picks. They’re going to have to learn on the fly and learn to play together, which is going to be the biggest challenge for us.”

Greg Manusky replaced Joe Barry as the defensive coordinator. They brought in Jim Tomsula to coach the defensive line and put Torrian Gray in charge of the secondary. Among the players expected to start or contribute heavily are free agents DL Stacy McGee, DL Terrell McClain, ILB Zach Brown and S D.J. Swearinger and draft picks DL Jonathan Allen and OLB Ryan Anderson.

The Redskins have added multiple free agents to their defense in the past with mixed, mostly negative results. But things don’t have to take long to gel. The Giants had one of the league’s worst defenses in 2015 but with a few free agency additions and with the help of 2015 draft pick Landon Collins suddenly blossoming into one of the best safeties in the game they were one of the best last year.

MORE REDSKINS: Allen says new stadium ahead of schedule

The main thing that the Redskins defense has to avoid this year is taking a step back. The team has gone 17-14-1 over the last two years with a defensive unit that ranked from mediocre to bad in most key categories. If they can start off performing like a team in the lower middle of the pack defensively and improve as the year goes on the team should be able to be in the mix in December. Despite also dealing with some changes, the offense should be able to carry the team until the defense can get its act together.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Baltimore Ravens players have a very manly Bachelorette watch party

Baltimore Ravens players have a very manly Bachelorette watch party

You don't have to be a chick to enjoy watching the Bachelorette.

Several Ravens' players proved this when they came together at tight end Dennis Pitta's house Monday night to have a very manly Bachelorette series premiere watch party. Players included kicker Justin Tucker and QB Joe Flacco.

Justin Tucker wasn't too happy though with Pitta's screen size. 

This wasn't the first time the guys got together to watch the Bachelorette . Last June during JoJo Fletcher's season, the squad got together to watch an episode where the Bachelorette and her suitors visited their arch rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

Will the guys spend the off-season continuing to watch who gets the final rose? 

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