Storm falls again to Sparks
Nneka Ogwumike scored with 2.5 seconds remaining to lift Los Angeles to a 67-65 victory, the Sparks' third win over Seattle this season.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Storm and Sparks, by the numbers60%
Percentage of Storm games so far this season vs. L.A.
Storm record this season vs. L.A.
Storm record overall this season
PPG this season for Sue Bird
LOS ANGELES — Blotches of yellow, purple and orange will haunt Ann Wauters' sleep. Only it won't be a colorful Rorschach test she's seeing.
The Storm center will be trying to erase images of Nneka Ogwumike draped in Los Angeles yellow and purple, arcing a one-handed, 14-foot jumper. As Wauters watched, the orange WNBA ball rotated and dropped into the hoop with 2.1 seconds left Sunday to break a tie and earn a 67-65 win for the Sparks.
"It's hard to lose on a last-second play, especially when it's against you," Wauters said, taking responsibility for not defending Ogwumike closer. "I don't know if I'll sleep well ... probably not."
Storm guard Sue Bird seemed to sense the play was coming, signaling her teammates to alter their defensive positioning. But with forward Camille Little covering Sparks star Candace Parker and guard Tanisha Wright on hot-shooting Kristi Toliver, there didn't seem to be enough bodies to cover all the possibilities.
Seattle (1-4) did have a foul to give, but opted not to chance being called on a shooting violation that would send Los Angeles to the line to possibly win the game there. So, the shot went up, and the improvement Seattle had made in practice unraveled with every rotation.
Los Angeles (5-1) has defeated Seattle three times since May 18.
"It stings," Wright said.
Entering its third week of playing together as a complete unit, the Storm played its most aggressive game of the season.
The Seattle posts, with Tina Thompson playing off the bench, outscored the L.A. frontcourt 20-10 in the paint and out-rebounded it 30-25 through three quarters. That led to the Sparks' poorest shooting night of the season (34.9 percent), the Storm holding L.A. to 2-for-13 shooting in the third quarter alone.
After a close battle through the first half, Seattle took its biggest lead of the game at 47-38 on a Bird three-pointer with 3:27 left in the third quarter. The Storm held on to its advantage through most of the fourth, but the Sparks began to rally with 4:11 left.
Trailing 60-53, Los Angeles got a three from reserve Ebony Hoffman to kick off a 10-0 run down the stretch.
Katie Smith hit a three-pointer with 33 seconds left to end the Storm drought, and after a Toliver layup, Little tied the score at 65 on a tip-in following a Bird miss with 5.5 seconds left.
All the Sparks needed was one big shot. And the Storm was out of timeouts to regroup.
"Our first two options were Parker and Toliver, but I had a feeling that one of the other three girls would get the shot," Sparks coach Carol Ross said. "I told them to be ready for it. It wasn't a designed play."
Ogwumike finished with 10 points, while Toliver led the Sparks with 23 and Parker had 16 points with 13 rebounds.
"What she hit was an extremely tough shot," said Bird, who finished with 12 points and six assists. "Even with the big shots they had, we had our own opportunities."
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or email@example.com. On Twitter @JaydaEvans.
|Seattle||15||19||15||16 — 65|
|Los Angeles||16||16||11||24 — 67|