The Los Angeles Sparks overcame a 17-point deficit to defeat the Dallas Wings 76-74. Sparks head coach Curt Miller noted how the win was a testament to the grit and togetherness of the team in the final minutes.
“I think it’s all from growing, we’ve lost some leads late, we lost some close games,” Miller said. “Just really proud of them that they stayed aggressive, stayed confident, stayed together and found a way to the finish line.
Sparks guard Destanni Henderson came off the bench to score 18 points to help defeat the Dallas Wings 76-74 pic.twitter.com/gCpD6GF7aq
— Amanda Scurlock (@Amandtastic) June 24, 2023
Forward Nneka Ogwumike led the Sparks with 20 points, forward Dearica Hamby made 10 rebounds and guard Jordin Canada had six assists. Wings forward Natasha Howard led Dallas with 23 points and 12 rebounds.
Guard Destanni Henderson came off the bench to score a career-high of 18 points. The matchup was her third in-season game with the Sparks after signing a hardship contract on June 16. She recently had her first practice with the team.
“Practice is really important especially just getting put on the team, while they already been playing with each other,” Henderson said. “It really puts me in a position to try to learn as much as possible.”
The Dallas Wings managed the first quarter by forcing turnovers and getting out on transition. Dallas scored 13 points off of the Sparks’ six turnovers, Ogunbowale led all scorers with 12 points.
Sparks guard Jordan Canada effectively defended Ogunbowale, she ultimately scored 16 points.
“I played [Ogunbowale] many times, I know her tendencies a little bit so just trying to make her do something different, put the ball out of her hands,” Canada said. “She’s the number one option on the team, so what can I do to be aggressive on her and make sure she’s taking tough shots.”
As Canada worked to contain Ogunbowale, Henderson found her offensive rhythm. She scored her first 10 points in the second quarter. Miller noted how her style of play is crafty and shifty.
“I think that she’s a point guard who can get into the paint and make things happen,” he said. “She stayed in attack mode for us but she also is bringing athleticism defensively to us that we’ve missed with some of the guards that are out.”
Los Angeles battled against the physicality of their frontcourt. They got center Teaira McCowan and Natasha Howard in foul trouble during the second half. Sparks center Chiney Ogwumike fouled out in their late rally. The game remained close in the final minutes with five ties in the last five minutes of regulation.
Canada noted how the game became about who wanted it more; the Sparks’ grit made them victorious.
“They punched us first, so we just had to have the mentality,” Canada said. “Take it possession by possession and set goals for ourselves throughout the quarter and throughout the game to get three stops in a row and to push the ball as much as possible.”
The Sparks will host the Dallas Wings on Sunday, June 25 at noon.