May 16, 2024 

Layshia Clarendon records first career triple-double

Veteran guard kicks off season with a balanced statement game

Two nights into the 2024 WNBA season and two triple-doubles have already been recorded. The first came from an unsurprising source, triple-double machine Alyssa Thomas. But the second was more unexpected: Layshia Clarendon recorded their first ever triple-double on Wednesday night in front of a sold out crowd in Long Beach.

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Clarendon, who uses he/him, she/her and they/them pronouns interchangeably, led the charge for the Sparks, with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, all while recording 0 turnovers. Clarendon’s triple-double comes in her eleventh season in the league — the latest in their career that a player has ever recorded their first WNBA triple-double.

“It’s pretty freaking cool to become the 4th Sparks player ever to have a triple double,” Clarendon told The Next. “I was just out there playing with my whole heart as I usually do. There’s something special here with this team and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

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Clarendon joins the incomparable line-up of Chelsea Gray, Lisa Leslie, and Candace Parker, each of whom recorded a triple-double in a Sparks uniform. This is the first Sparks triple-double since Gray recorded one in 2019, and the first triple-double notched against the Atlanta Dream in their 16 seasons.

On Wednesday against the Atlanta Dream, the Sparks, powered by Clarendon, stuck with the Dream through the first three quarters. Though they were tied at the end of the third, a 9–0 run to start the fourth determined a 92–81 Dream victory.

Helming a particularly young and inexperienced team, Clarendon’s experience and toughness has made her especially valuable. As fellow veteran Sparks guard Kia Nurse explained, “We’re going to ask a lot of [Layshia], to come out there and play hard for us. Get us in the offenses, get people in the places and positions where they can be successful.”

“Their toughness is something we rely on a ton, especially against other point guards … they did their job incredibly well. And that’s what we need from them,” Nurse continued.

Head coach Curt Miller said he’s asking his veterans to take on more prominent roles, and that he’s seen them embrace it. “Layshia Clarendon with a triple-double tonight. Absolutely came in and was great on the board as a point guard and distributed, and just played fearlessly and relentlessly,” Miller said.

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Miller added that he’s been happy with the chemistry and scrappiness of his starting unit, particularly Clarendon and fellow veterans Dearica Hamby and Nurse. In Wednesday’s loss, Hamby had 20 points and 14 rebounds in what Miller referred to as a “monster double-double,” while Nurse led scoring with 23 points on 5-for-11 shooting from long range. “[It was] a great start in a lot of ways, on what we’re trying to build as a culture and how we’re playing and sharing it and moving it and playing faster,” said Coach Miller.

On a team where more than half of the active roster are in their first season for the Sparks, veteran leadership will continue to be essential. The Sparks’ next opportunity to improve on defensive cohesiveness (a major key in this matchup) and playmaking will come on Saturday, when they have the formidable task of taking on the Las Vegas Aces.

Howard Megdal contributed reporting to this piece.

Written by Cameron Ruby

Cameron Ruby has been a contributing writer for The Next since April 2023. She is a Bay Area native currently living in Los Angeles.

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