Saturday not only began the start of the 2017 WNBA season but also the start of the Los Angeles Sparks' championship defense. The team looked perfectly ready for the challenge even without WNBA Finals MVP Candace Parker in the lineup. The Sparks grabbed a 78-68 victory over the visiting Seattle Storm who were without several key players. Nneka Ogwumike helped lead the way to the win, showing exactly why she is the reigning league MVP. Here's a look at how the Los Angeles Sparks got the victory on Saturday to start off their season at 1-0.

How the Sparks won

With Candace Parker sidelined, it was up to her teammates to carry the load.

That was no issue whatsoever, as they still had WNBA Player of the Year Nneka Ogwumike on the floor. Ogwumike led her team with 23 points on 10-for-20 shooting which included 3-for-6 shooting from downtown. She also filled up her stat line with three rebounds, three assists, and three steals. Teammate Odyssey Sims was also a key contributor for the win. Sims finished with 20 points as she shot 9-for-15 from the floor giving her a 60 percent rate for the game. She also dished out six assists, snatched four rebounds, and recorded two steals in the 31 minutes or so of game time she logged.

The Seattle Storm outrebounded the Sparks, and shot better than their opponents in today's game, with a 52 percent overall rate.

However, they were without two of their stars as both Sue Bird, and Breanna Stewart sat out the opener with knee issues. Jewell Loyd led the Storm with 25 points on 10-for-18 field goal shooting. Crystal Langhorne and Ramu Tokashiki combined for another 27 points. Unfortunately, after that, there wasn't a whole lot of production from Seattle's other players as they had just 16 points total.

Despite Seattle's better field goal percentage and higher rebounds total, the home team took over the game after the first quarter. The Storm led by just a point after the first, but Los Angeles claimed a one-point lead of their own at the half. The Sparks closed out today's season opener by outscoring Seattle 40-31 in the second half.

What's up next?

The reigning WNBA Champions now have a 1-0 start to their latest season as they look to try to repeat as the champs. Next up for the Los Angeles Sparks is a Friday, May 19th home game. They'll host the Washington Mystics beginning at 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time from the Staples Center.

For the 0-1 Seattle Storm, they turn right around and play tomorrow. This time they'll have a home game in which to try to grab their first win of the season. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m. Eastern Time as Seattle hosts the Indiana Fever at Key Arena. WNBA League Pass and Q13/JoeTV will have live television coverage of this game.

Don't miss our page on Facebook!