Defense and a strong effort in the second half was the key for the Los Angeles Sparks’ win over an energetic Indiana Fever 74-55. Los Angeles would get a 17-point benefit from Indiana’s 17 turnovers.
Center Candace Parker led the Sparks with 15 points and forward Nneka Ogwumike earned seven rebounds. Center Natalie Achonwa earned her fourth double-double of the season, scoring 13 points and 14 rebounds.
Achonwa spearheaded the tough Indiana board campaign that outrebounded the Sparks 45 to 29. What the Fever gained in second-chance points, they lacked in ball movement; the Sparks routed them in assists 20 to eight.
The Indiana Fever established an early 18-13 lead that the end of the first quarter. The Fever benefited from the Sparks bouts of scoreless with shots from guard Tiffany Mitchell and Achonwa. Los Angeles remained competitive by forcing turnovers and feeds to Parker for close range shots.
“When you’re not putting the ball in the basket like we were tonight and you still play really good defense, that’s a tribute to how hard they were playing and competing defensively,” said Sparks head coach Brian Agler.
Veteran Riquna Williams electrified the crowd with an eight-point run in two regulated minutes. Guard Chelsea Gray added to the momentum, switching up on guard Kelsey Mitchell on the fastbreak to score. Yet, the Fever frontcourt would avenge their teammate; Achonwa blocked guard Odyssey Sim’s jumper, sending the ball to guard Erica Wheeler for a three-pointer.
By the half, the Sparks benefited from Indiana’s 11 turnovers with nine points.
“We have two of the best perimeter defenders in the league,” Gray said. “Putting pressure on people to make tough shots.”
Indiana added aggressive physicality to their speed and steady rebounding. Kelsey earned a technical foul after hitting Sims. Gray and Parker would score in the double digits by the end of the third term.
Although the Sparks had the lead, Achonwa controlled the boards with 10 rebounds at that point. Her resounding effort on the glass would give the Fever 14 second-chance points.
“We gave them a lot of second chances, a lot of those were [offensive] boards,” Ogwumike said. “We got to a point and time too when we were just taking quick shots.”
The Sparks finished the game strong scoring 19 points in the fourth quarter compared to the Fever’s six. Parker denied Achonwa from shooting with blocks. Ogwumike ended the game with 12 points while Williams scored 10 points. Along with scoring 14 points, Gray ended the game with seven assists.
The Sparks battle the Dallas Wings at the Staples Center on Tuesday, June 26th at 7:30P.M..