Sparks Win Overtime Thriller in Chicago, Sweep Weekend Series

The Los Angeles Sparks beat the Chicago Sky in the Windy City for the second time in three days in an 82-79 overtime thriller to earn their second win of the season and improve to 2-2.

Nneka Ogwumike led the Sparks with 21 points and nine rebounds. Erica Wheeler and Amanda Zahui B. both scored 17 points, and Nia Coffey chipped in with 15 points including the go-ahead three-pointer in overtime.

The Sparks had a slow start, trailing the Sky by four points in the first few minutes after tip-off. Sparks rookie guard Arella Guirantes was left wide open and took the opportunity for a 3 point shot for the first Sparks basket. The Sparks were missing Chiney Ogwumike, who was a late scratch due to right knee soreness. The Sparks trailed 27-13 after the first quarter as Chicago’s Courtney Vandersloot got going.

The Sky scored the first three points of the second quarter to go up 30-13, in what would their largest lead of the game. But the Sparks stormed back, as Zahui B. poured in 12 points in 16 minutes off the bench. The Sparks ripped off a 22-4 run and took their first lead of the game at 35-34, and went into halftime with the game tied at 37-37.

In the 3rd quarter, the Sky took early control, until Brittney Sykes changed the momentum with a massive block against Chicago’s Diamond DeShields. The block was her 60th of her career, passing Becky Hammon on the all-time blocks list at 167th overall.

The Sky led 57-51 heading into the fourth quarter, as Chicago Sky point guard Courtney Vandersloot continued her path to a career-high 28 points.

After the Sparks regained the lead midway through the fourth quarter, the Sky went on a run and went up 71-64 with around four minutes remaining. But Sparks guard Erica Wheeler, took control attacking the basket. Wheeler tied the score 73-73 with 11 seconds left in the 4th quarter, helping cap off a 9-2 run. Vandersloot missed a possible game winning basket with eight seconds remaining which sent the game into overtime.

With the game tied at 75-75 in overtime, Nneka Ogwumike made a layup followed by a Nia Coffey hit a three-point basket to give the Sparks an 80-75 lead. Courtney Vandersloot answered with a four-point play to pull the Sky to within one, but Wheeler again answered with a drive to put the Sparks up 82-79.

The Sparks had four players finish in double digits: Nneka Ogwumike (21), Amanda Zahui B. (17), Nia Coffey (15), and Erica Wheeler (15).

“There are always statistical things to be critical of… but just that collective grit and accountability from player to player that ‘I’m not going to let my teammates down tonight’, that’s what you need,” said General Manager/Head Coach Derek Fisher after the game.

The Los Angeles Sparks road trip continues as the team will face off against the Dallas Wings for the second time this season on Tuesday, June 1 at 5 p.m. PT on ESPN3.