In their first contest post-Olympic Break, first game in Staples Center since 2019, and first game with superstar Nneka Ogwumike in the lineup since June 1 of this season, the Sparks toughed out a 75-70 victory against the Indiana Fever in a must-win game defined by momentous swings. It was their second win in as many games against the Fever this season. Los Angeles outshot Indiana 43.9% to 33.3% from the field and 35.0% to 22.2% from three-point land.
It was truly a team effort for LA, which had four players — Brittney Sykes (16), Amanda Zahui B. (13), Nneka Ogwumike (12), and Erica Wheeler (12) — score in double figures and two more — Nia Coffey and Te’a Cooper –finish just shy with nine points. Zahui B. brought in game-leading nine rebounds, coming up just short of a double-double. She also led all players with three blocks. Brittney Sykes and Nneka Ogwumike each recorded seven boards, while both Kristi Toliver and Erich Wheeler contributed six assists.
Indiana was led by Kelsey Mitchell’s 20 points. Tiffany Mitchell and Danielle Robinson also scored in double-figures for the Fever, with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Robinson nabbed a game-leading three steals while Jessica Breland led the Fever with eight rebounds.
After welcoming their fans back to their home arena, the Sparks raced out to an early lead, at one point scoring 14 unanswered points mid-first quarter. However, Indiana responded by closing the first quarter on a 10-2 run, leaving the Sparks ahead 26-22.
Ogwumike scored her first points of the game 20 seconds into the second quarter, before rattling off four more points in the ensuing minutes to put LA up 37-30. Once again, the Fever rallied back, knotting the score at 39 on a Teaira McCowan three-point play with 3:50 to go before halftime.
The Sparks responded in kind by going on an eight-point run, five of which were scored by Amanda Zahui B., in the next minute to build a 47-39 lead. However, Indiana went on to score seven of the half’s final nine points to draw to within three points at the midway point, 49-46 Sparks.
Zahui B. and Brittney Sykes paced the Sparks in the first half with 12 points apiece, going a combined 9-13 from the field. Meanwhile, Kelsey Mitchell helped the Fever stay within striking distance, outscoring all players in the first two quarters with 15 points on 7-11 shooting.
Both teams had difficulty scoring coming out of halftime, with Indiana out-scoring Los Angeles 13-10 in the third period. The Sparks made just four field goals in the third quarter, three of which were assisted by Kristi Toliver.
Indiana was limited to just one field goal in the quarter, but capitalized on free throws, hitting 11 of 11 attempts. Indiana’s Tiffany Mitchell scored Indiana’s last eight points in the period, all of which came from the charity strike, to tie the game at 59 just before the fourth quarter.
The offensive struggles continued for both sides in the fourth quarter, with Los Angeles scoring just 16 points to Indiana’s 11. In a nail-biting conclusion, LA was boosted by Nia Coffey’s early fourth quarter performance, which consisted of six points and a block. Coffey’s layup with 5:56 to go in regulation gave the Sparks a 67-65 advantage and put them in the lead for good.
Leading by three in the game’s final seconds, Sykes reeled in a missed Danielle Robinson three-point attempt to put the game on ice for Los Angeles, before assisting Ogwumike on a layup at the buzzer for good measure.
The win snapped a six-game losing streak for the Sparks and improved their record to 7-13, and dropped Indiana’s record to 4-16. With Ogwumike and Toliver back from injury and a win under their belt, the Sparks will seek to use this victory to launch a late-season run. They will get the chance to build more momentum in just two days when they take on the Atlanta Dream at Staples Center on Tuesday, August 17 at 7:30 PM.