Sparks Earn Hard Fought Win At Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS – The Sparks spoiled Lindsay Whalen’s jersey retirement ceremony game coming into Target Center and pulling out an 89-85 win. The Sparks got key performances from Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, who scored a season-high 17 points, and Riquna Williams, who had a season-high 25. All-Star Chelsea Gray again played the role of closer, scoring the Sparks last six points to ice the game. She finished with 21 points.

Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, making her third start in the place of Alana Beard (left leg), scored the first basket for the Sparks and her 3-pointer moments later gave the Sparks a 7-2 lead. Chelsea Gray followed that up with another triple to put the Sparks up 12-4 and they had all the momentum. However, the Sparks missed some open shots and the Lynx answered with a 7-0 run before Riquna Williams hit a 3-pointer to give the Sparks a 15-11 lead. The game was tied at 17-17 after the first quarter.

Williams opened up the second quarter scoring with a drive to the basket plus the foul. Former Spark Odyssey Sims tied the game with a 3-pointer before Marina Mabrey answered with a triple to put the Sparks up 23-20. The Sparks went on a 9-0 run sparked by Riquna Williams and her triple put the Sparks up 38-25, their largest lead of the game. Minnesota responded with a 14-6 run to close the half, taking advantage of Sparks fouls, and Los Angeles to a 44-39 lead into the break.

Chiney Ogwumike reached double-figures with the first basket of the second half. The game seesawed until a Lexie Brown 3-pointer gave the Lynx a 51-50 lead. The Lynx tacked on six more points to go up 57-50 and force a timeout from head coach Derek Fisher. A 9-2 response from the Sparks tied the game at 59-59. Brown and N. Ogwumike exchanged 3-pointers, and a Williams triple gave the Sparks a 67-66 lead after the third.

A Ruffin-Pratt triple started the fourth quarter scoring putting the Sparks up four. Chelsea Gray left the game after getting hit by a hard screen, but returned minutes later. A Mabrey steal and score put the Sparks up 72-66 with 8:11 remaining. Both teams answered each other before a Ruffin-Pratt basket and-one put the Sparks up 79-71 with 5:09 left. Two Gray free throws put the Sparks up 10, but the Lynx responded quickly with a 7-0 run forcing a Sparks timeout up 81-78 with 3:18 left. The Sparks led 83-79 before Lexie Brown threw up a prayer with the shot clock winding down to pull the Lynx within one-point with 1:10 remaining. Gray, developing the reputation as the best closer in the WNBA, answered with a pull-up jumper to put the Sparks up 85-82 with 52.2 second left. Collier split a pair of free throws to make it 85-83 Los Angeles. Gray again came through, hitting another shot to put the Spark up four and secure the win.

Up Next: The Sparks travel home for the beginning of the week and then travel to Phoenix to play the Mercury at 7 p.m. PT on CBS Sports.