Nneka Ogwumike finished with 21 points, six rebounds and three steals while leading the Los Angeles Sparks to an 84-82 win over the Washington Mystics, snapping their three-game slide on Tuesday night at Crypto.com Arena.
Sparks forwards Katie Lou Samuelson had 13 points and Chiney Ogwumike added 10 points to go along with nine rebounds. Los Angeles guard Jordin Canada added 10 while center Liz Cambage finished with nine points, six rebounds, one steal and one block before fouling out with 1:14 left to play.
The Mystics fell to 11-8 on the season with the loss. Washington guard Ariel Atkins led all scorers with 22 points, Myisha Hines-Allen had 17 points and eight rebounds while Natasha Cloud had 13 points and a career-high 13 assists.
The victory saw Fred Williams pick up his first win for the Sparks (6-9) since taking over as interim head coach following Derek Fisher’s release from the team.
“I think on the outside looking in, a lot of people would think, ‘This should happen right away’ but what we’re doing is building a foundation. We were building a foundation when the season started of getting to know each other and we’re still doing that,” said Williams following the win. “Understanding that we give each other grace through the change is what’s going to help us remain cohesive.”
The former 2016 MVP in Nneka Ogwumike, had 13 points at halftime and led the Sparks in maintaining a 35-31 lead. The Mystics were held to 33.3 percent shooting and had 13 turnovers through the first two quarters.
“Nneka’s been that hidden secret … she is always prepared to play and give it her all for you. She’s playing at an All-Star (level),” said Williams.
Los Angeles outscored Washington 28-20 in the third and led 77-61 with 4:16 left in the fourth only before the Mystics rallied with a 21-7 run to close the game in a thrilling finish.
Washington made five of nine three-point attempts in the final period with Cloud making three and Atkins making one, including completing a four-point play that cut the Mystics deficit to 79-71 with 2:58 left.
Canada converted two free throws with 22.7 seconds remaining in the fourth to give the Sparks an 82-78 lead but Cloud responded with a huge three-pointer to get back within one, 82-81 with 13.3 seconds left.
Ogwumike then stepped to the line after being fouled where she went on to make two free throws with 10.2 seconds left to give Los Angeles a three-point lead.
Following a timeout, Cloud was fouled on a three-point attempt with 2.5 seconds remaining but missed the second of three free throws and was forced to intentionally miss the third in hopes of an offensive rebound but it was Los Angeles that was able to secure the board for the 84-82 win.
“The main thing for us is closing out games … what hurt us, we didn’t close enough on the 3-point shots. All of a sudden, you got a two-point ballgame or tie game…Proud, though, of the finishing effort,” said Williams.
The L.A. Sparks will next host the Chicago Sky (11-5) on Thursday, June 23 at 7:30 P.M.
“Our resiliency as a team and how much fight we have… I think that’s super important,” Canada said. “We’re just trying to build from it and get another win on Thursday.”