Sparks Edge Storm in Overtime Thriller

Seattle (July 10, 2018) – Up two with less than 15 seconds left in overtime, the Sparks held on to win 77-75 as Sue Bird, Natasha Howard and Breanna Stweart all missed last-gasp shots helping Los Angeles snap a three-game losing streak. The Storm led 70-68 in overtime before Alana Beard’s 3-pointer and long two gave the Sparks a 73-70 lead. Stewart answered with a layup but then Essence Carson, who scored a crucial 18 points on 8-for-13 shooting, hit a jumper to put the Sparks up 75-72. Nneka Ogwumike then came up with a steal, her third of the game, and after two offensive rebounds, Candace Parker made a left-handed hook to put the Sparks up 77-72, just enough cushion for the Sparks to hold on. Parker finished one rebound shy of a triple-double with 21 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds.

The first quarter saw the teams answer back and forth as Howard score eight early points and the Sparks got balanced socring with five different players scoring in the opening frame. With the game tied at 14, Ogwumike and Carson scored on back-to-back possessions and e Parker got fouled on a 3-pointer with 0.9 seconds left in the quarter. She made all three free throws, scoring eight in the period and giving the Sparks a 21-14 lead after one.

Carson hit a 3-pointer to open the scoring in the second quarter and put Los Angeles up by 10. The Storm answered with a 6-0 run and got inspired play from reserve sharpshooter Sami Whitcomb. Carson hit her second 3-pointer to give her 10 first-half points and put the Sparks up seven, but Sue Bird answered with a triple of her own. Bird’s second triple of the game pulled Seattle within one 31-30 as the Sparks hit an offensive lull. Chelsea Gray hit a 3-pointer from NBA-range and Crystal Langhorne answered with an uncontested layup as the Sparks took a 36-34 lead into the half.

(Note: Kaleena Mosquea-Lewis was ruled out at halftime for the remainder of the game with concussion symptoms.)

Ogwumike opened the second half with a layup which was answered by Alysha Clark’s first two points of the game. Off a live ball turnover, Clark scored again in the open court and got fouled. Her free throw gave the Storm a 39-38 lead, their first since the first quarter. Clark scored 10 points in the first three minutes of the third to help the Storm take the lead and play from in front. A Bird triple put the Storm up 54-44 with three minutes left in third and a driving layup from Breanna Stweart gave the Storm their biggest lead of the game 56-44. Langhorne made a fadeaway left-hook to end the third quarter with Seattle up 60-50.

The Sparks scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to cut the Storm lead to 60-56 before Howard scored on a pick and roll dive to the rim. A Chelsea Gray layup forced a Seattle timeout with the score at 62-60 Storm. The teams exchanged baskets and the Sparks had five chances to tie the game down the stretch and finally did on an Alana Beard jumper with one minute left at 66. Candace Parker’s jumper clanked off at the buzzer to set up overtime.

The Sparks travel back home and face the Dallas Wings Thursday at 12:30 p.m. PST.