Saturday, September 21st, 2019

Sparks’ winning shot by rookie Ogwumike was not a planned play as Los Angeles beats Seattle for third time

Published on June 4, 2012

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The Los Angeles Sparks began Sunday night’s game with a moment of silence honoring former head coach and ex-NBA player Orlando Woolridge who died last Thursday. Then they survived a close game against the Seattle Storm due to a running shot from rookie Nneka Ogwumike in the last 2.5 seconds of the game, winning 67-65 in front of 12,639 fans.

“We had a great week of practice but we didn’t come out and play like we’ve been practicing,” said Sparks coach Carol Ross. “We had to overcome ourselves and hang with Seattle. I thought going in to fourth quarter changed the mentality and our bench was really good at doing little things that changed the energy.”

The Sparks shot 34.9 percent from the field, their worst this season compared to Seattle’s 38.7. The Storm outscored the Sparks 34-27 in the second and third quarters combined. But the last shot from Ogwumike saved the day for Los Angeles.

“[For the last shot] we told them that our first two options were Parker or Toliver,” said Ross, “but that I had a feeling that one of the other three girls would get the shot, so I told them to be ready for it. It wasn’t a designed play but I told them to make sure they were ready.”

Ross praised the rookie on her effort and confidence.

“[Nneka’s] mentality is that she just wants to win. It’s not any one person, everyone just wants to pitch in where they can. In the locker room Nneka said, ‘I just wanna win’ and I think it’s good for her confidence and for her teammates to know that other people can contribute as well.”

Ogwumike finished with 10 points and five rebounds. Kristi Toliver led the Sparks with 23 points, five rebounds, seven assists and three steals. Candace Parker finished with 16 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks for the Sparks.

“Nneka took a hell of a shot,” said Storm coach Brian Agler. “We had Parker and Toliver guarded, it was a tough situation, she had a heck of a shot and that’s the way it goes.”

Toliver praised her team’s consistency in staying aggressive.

“We tried to stay consistent and be aggressive,” said Toliver. “We want to always value the ball and push through to handle adversity.”

For Seattle, Katie Smith led with 19 points and five rebounds. Sue Bird contributed 12 points.

Agler noted the team’s progression but still sees the need to get better.

“We are a team that’s improved a lot in two weeks and we are not done improving. We are gonna look at the film, see what we can do better, and focus on that.”

The win gave the Sparks the regular season tie-breaker over the Storm, as they have already defeated Seattle three times this season.

Notes

  • The Storm’s biggest lead of the game was 9 points (47-38 with 3:27 left in the 3rd quarter). On the other hand, the Sparks never led by more than four points.
  • The Sparks forced 19 Storm turnovers, while committing 14.
  • The Storm attempted 25 three-pointers, but only converted 28.0 percent.
  • The Sparks made 6 of 15 three-point attempts for 40 percent.
  • The Sparks outscored the Storm 24-16 in the final period.
  • Ogwumike only made 3-of-9 field goals, but two of those came in the final 49 seconds.

 

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