Late basket lifts Sparks over Storm 67-65

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Sparks found yet another way to beat the Seattle Storm.

Nneka Ogwumike scored with 2.5 seconds remaining to lift the Sparks to a 67-65 victory over Seattle in WNBA action Sunday night.

Ogwumike took an inbound pass from Alana Beard and made a right hand running shot over Ann Wauters as the Sparks beat Seattle for the third time in 16 days.

Los Angeles prevailed despite shooting a season-worst 34.9 percent from the field. Kristi Toliver led the Sparks with 23 points. Candace Parker added 16 points and 13 rebounds.

The game-winning play was initially drawn up for Parker, but Beard couldn’t find her. Ogwumike got the ball on the perimeter, to the right of the basket and she wasn’t confident when the shot left her hand.

“Actually it didn’t (feel good) because floaters are my worst shot,” Ogwumike said.

The victory gave the Sparks the season tiebreaker over Seattle for seeding in the playoffs. Los Angeles rallied from 21 points down against the Storm on opening night and recorded a wire-to-wire 13-point victory four days later.

Ogwumike, the top pick in this year’s draft, is a big contributor to the Sparks’ 5-1 start. She was quiet for most of the game and finished with 10 points. Her teammates were glad to see her in the spotlight.

“I think it was huge,” Parker said. “The way the defense was — Nneka did a good job reading the situation. She was able to get in there and get to her shot. I’m really proud of her that she was even able to step up and take that shot … Nneka’s one of those players that she’s going to bring a lot of energy and she’s going to do a lot of things that don’t really show up on the stat sheet. I think that’s the key about her.”

The game-winning basket hurt more for Seattle considering it had a foul to give.

“We talked about giving one, but we just never got it accomplished,” Seattle coach Brian Agler said. “Nneka hit a hell of a shot. Ann was right on her. She sort of shot it around Ann’s arm.”

Agler and his players also lamented losing a 60-53 lead with about four minutes remaining. The Sparks went on a 10-0 run capped by Ogwumike’s reverse layup.

Toliver, who made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer against Tulsa on Tuesday, scored on a left hand drive that rattled in for a 65-63 lead with 12.6 seconds to go before Seattle’s Camille Little tied the game with a put-back.

Katie Smith led Seattle with 19 points, including a 3-pointer with 35 seconds remaining that tied the score at 63-all. Sue Bird added 12 points for the Storm (1-4).

“Losses are tough, period, but (especially) the ones that are last second,” Seattle’s Tina Thompson said. “It stings a little bit because you think about the opportunities that we had to change the outcome.

“We’ve had time to kind of practice on our things. We’re nowhere near where we need to be but we’re getting better defensively.”


Before the game a moment of silence was observed for former Sparks coach and NBA player Orlando Woolridge, who died Thursday.

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