Sparks Offense Stalls in Loss to Lynx

The Los Angeles Sparks and the Minnesota Lynx met on Thursday for the final time this regular season at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Sparks scored just four points in the fourth quarter, ultimately conceding to Minnesota, 66-57. Nneka Ogwumike led her team with 16 points, 10 rebounds, and four steals. Erica Wheeler scored 16 with seven assists and two steals. Wheeler hit a milestone of 700 career assists surpassing Chamique Holdsclaw for 60th All-Time in the WNBA. Kayla McBride led all scorers with 17 points.

The Sparks were scoreless through the first two minutes of play when Erica Wheeler put the Sparks on the board with a 3-pointer and block of Crystal Dangerfield’s lay-up. Then back-to-back scoring plays by Coffey, assisted by Wheeler, pulled their team within one. Coffey had 5 points in the first three minutes of the game. As the Sparks and Minnesota rivalry renewed with six lead changes in the first quarter, the Sparks shot 37% from the floor and Lynx shot 40%. However, The Sparks forced eight turnovers and took a 20-18 lead. The Sparks forced eight Lynx turnovers in the first quarter.

To start the second quarter, The Minnesota Lynx went on an 8-2 run but it was ended by a Lauren Cox 3-pointer. The Sparks maintained a four-point lead with four minutes left in the first half thanks to Nneka Ogwumike’s post-play with seven points in the quarter. The Sparks took a 41-35 lead into the half.

To start the third quarter, the Sparks were ignited by an assist to Nneka Ogwumike from Erica Wheeler as the first basket after a minute and a half in the quarter. The Lynx’s struggled early offensively to find a rhythm. But Nneka Ogwumike’s 3-pointer gave the Sparks their largest lead of the game at nine points as they lead 45-36. But this was neutralized by the Lynx’s first field goal in the first three minutes by Sylvia Fowles who led all rebounders with 17. The Lynx’s took their first second half lead with 4:55 minutes to go as they got to the free-throw line in the bonus. The Sparks lead 53-51 going into the fourth quarter.

While a Nneka Ogwumike 3-pointer tied the game at 56-56 midway through the fourth, the Sparks offense stalled completely. They’d get one more point in the entire period from a Wheeler free throw before an Aerial Powers 3-pointer sparked an 11-4 Lynx run. The Sparks struggled shooting late down the stretch going 1-for-11 while the Lynx’s took a seven-point lead with less than a minute left in regulation. Sylvia Fowles recorded her 16th double-double of the season with 17 rebounds and 15 points.

The Sparks tied the franchise record for fewest points in a half at 16 and set the franchise record for fewest points in a second half. The Sparks travel home tomorrow after a 15-day road trip. They will look to rest and regroup before facing the Connecticut at Staples Center on Sept. 9 at 7:30pm.