It will be Ogwumike vs. Ogwumike today at Mohegan Sun

After playing on the same team as sister Nneka in high school and college, Chiney Ogwumike of the Connecticut Sun, right, will oppose her for the first time.
After playing on the same team as sister Nneka in high school and college, Chiney Ogwumike of the Connecticut Sun, right, will oppose her for the first time. Sean D. Elliot/The Day Buy Photo

Mohegan — Chiney and Nneka Ogwumike swear that they never played basketball competitively against one another.

"Nope," Chiney Ogwumike of the Connecticut Sun said. "We just like to have fun together, not against each other."

Sibling rivalries are a natural part of growing up in a family, though.

"You're supposed to, but we don't," Chiney said. "Honestly. That's why we chose to go to the same high school (Cypress Fairbanks in Cypress, Texas). That's why we chose to play together at Stanford. … That's just how we are as a family."

OK, surely they must have fought over the last cookie at some point in their lives.

"I have to say no because we don't really eat dessert," Nneka Ogwumike of the Los Angeles Sparks said.

Today, then, will be an odd day for the Ogwumike sisters. They'll have to battle, no, no. … compete against one another as Connecticut plays host to Los Angeles at Mohegan Sun Arena (1 p.m., MyTV9).

"I have mixed emotions about playing her, but we're just going to have fun with it and play hard," Chiney said. "I have a job to do. We have to play defense and my job is not to let her score. … (She's) going to be another person. I'm not going to say, 'Here, Nneka, welcome to Connecticut. Here's the lane.'"

Nneka said: "I think it'll be fun. It'll be weird, but I think we're kind of getting all the weirdness out now before the game starts."

This weekend has been the first time in a while that the Ogwumike sisters have had time to spend together. Chiney completed her senior season at Stanford and led it to the Final Four. Nneka played in China during the WNBA offseason. They talk to one another daily.

Chiney said that more than 20 family and friends attended the Sparks game at the New York Liberty on Friday.

"(Friday) was like a reunion for us," Chiney said. "It's a celebration for our family, two girls who are healthy and playing in the WNBA. It's not what we thought we were going to do with our lives. It's become a beautiful life for us."

Connecticut and Los Angeles both need to start collecting wins. The Sparks (8-11) have one of the most stacked rosters in the league, but lost eight of their first 12 games.

The Sun (8-12) have lost six of their last seven, including back-to-back road losses last week. They're 2-8 on the road, and after today, seven of their next nine games are on the road.

Connecticut lost at the Indiana Fever last Thursday 72-68, as it wasted a chance to win. It led by as many as 14 points (45-31) with 3 minutes, 55 seconds left in the third quarter. The Fever struck back and scored 33 in the fourth quarter.

"The determination that Indiana played with in the fourth quarter, it was a lot higher energy than we had," the Sun's Kelsey Griffin said. "The intensity that we brought the first three quarters, (the Fever) brought it in the fourth quarter.

"I personally believe that energy comes from mental toughness. It comes from a mindset. And so I think that hopefully as our group matures — I don't even think we can say we're young anymore now that we're halfway through (the season) - that you understand the mindset, the determination, it takes. I think that's what energy is all about. It's a mindset that manifests itself physically."

n.griffen@theday.com

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