Amanda Zahui B. scored a career-high 37 points, Kia Nurse added 26 to propel the New York Liberty to a 98-92 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks at Staples Center on Saturday night.
New York (3-5) snapped a 10-game road losing streak, while the Sparks (4-3) suffered its first home loss of the season.
“Amanda shot the ball well tonight. That’s not something that normally happens,” said Sparks coach Derek Fisher on Zahui B., who had 24 first half points and converted a career-high seven 3-pointers. “You can’t come into a game assuming anything you have to come in and play one possession at a time. So, I thought the Liberty did a better job at that. They were quicker to the basketball at times.”
The Sparks converted 12 turnovers on the night and saw the Liberty convert (23-26) free throws, compared to Los Angeles only make (6-7) shots from the charity stripe.
Chiney Ogwumike recorded a double-double with 26 points and 14 rebounds for the Sparks. Nneka Ogwumike added 20 and 9, and Chelsea Gray had 18.
“They had nothing to do with the unforced turnovers we made. They have nothing to with [us] not having the discipline at times to move the ball from one side to the other and getting stuck on one side,” Fisher added. “They didn’t present any challenges we haven’t seen before, but they do deserve credit for finishing the game.
Both teams combined to put up 62 points alone in the second quarter, as defense was not played at a premium.
Gray set up Chiney Ogwumike for a lay-up just before the buzzer sounded, giving Los Angeles a 50-48 halftime lead.
The Sparks put together a 7-0 run midway through the third to take a 67-60 lead with 4:15 remaining. However, the Liberty then responded to tie the game back up at 69-all with under one-minute to go in the quarter.
Alexis Jones added nine points and made two three-pointers in the fourth quarter to give Los Angeles an 84-79 lead.
New York then responded and closed the game with two runs of their own. An 11-4 run gave the Liberty a 90-88 lead with 1:11 left in the game, as Zahui B. nailed her seventh three-pointer of the night.
Kia Nurse then nailed back-to-back free throws to give the Liberty a 96-90 lead and the Sparks could not overcome the late deficit
“We were fighting but it was hard for us to push through because of how our body felt,” Chiney Ogwumike said.