Sparks Comeback Falls Short in Loss

UNCASVILLE, Conn.  – Down by 21 in the second half to a talented Connecticut Sun team, the Sparks cut the lead to four points with under two minutes to play, but could not complete the comeback, falling 89-77.

Nneka Ogwumike scored first basket of the game, but the Sun started hot from the field, building a 16-6 lead early, before an Alexis Jones steal and Marina Mabrey layup and subsequent 3-pointer cut it to 16-11. The Sun answered with a 7-0 run to close the quarter up 23-11, taking advantage of five Sparks turnovers.

The Sparks defense tightened up in the second quarter and they pulled to within nine at 29-20, still searching for an offensive groove. The Sun continued to take advantage of Sparks turnovers by getting out on the break and a 6-0 run forced a timeout from head coach Derek Fisher with the Sun leading 35-22. A Sydney Wiese 3-pointer cut it to 35-27 Sun, but a Shekinna Stricklen 3-pointer gave Connecticut another double-digit lead at 41-29. The Sun led 43-32 at the half.

The beginning of the third quarter saw Jonquel Jones and Chiney Ogwumike, returning to Connecticut for the first time since being traded to the Sparks, exchange baskets. A Stricklen 3-pointer and Jasmine Thomas layup gave the Sun their biggest lead of the game 57-40. Marina Mabrey continued to shoot the ball well as she scored a season and career high 14 points and kept the Sparks within striking distance. After falling behind by as much as 21, the Sparks went into the fourth quarter down 65-52.

The Sun extended the lead back to 17 before a Nneka Ogwumike 3-pointer cut the lead to 73-59 with 7:03 remaining. Another Ogwumike 3-pointer cut it to 75-62, and the Sparks cut the lead to ten with 5:04 remaining. With 2:50 remaining, Chelsea Gray ran a pick and roll with C. Ogwumike and hit her with a beautiful bounce pass. Chiney completed the three-point play to make it 79-72 Sun. Nneka’s fourth 3-pointer cut the lead to six with under two minutes remaining, and a C. Ogwumike layup off a steal cut it to 81-77 with 1:16 remaining. But the Sparks got no closer and the Sun scored the final eight points of the game.

Up Next: The Sparks travel to Minnesota to play the Lynx at 12:30 p.m. PT on ABC.