Sparks handle Storm to extend winning streak to three

Shavonte Zellous, Maria Vadeeva. Maria Noble/WomensHoopsWorld
Shavonte Zellous guards Maria Vadeeva. Maria Noble/WomensHoopsWorld

Los Angeles – Candace Parker ignited for a season-high 21 points Sunday to lead the Los Angeles Sparks over the Seattle Storm, 83-75.

Four other Sparks players scored in double figures, including sophomore center Maria Vadeeva, who came off the bench for 14 points. Nneka Ogwumike had 13 points and 10 rebounds and Chelsea Gray, 10 points and eight assists, on a 52.5 percent shooting night for the team, which has now won three straight.

Both squads traded buckets in the first quarter, but a 16-4 Los Angeles run in the second gave them a 12-point lead. Seattle opened the third period with 1-8 shooting, giving their opponents a 17-point lead. Vadeeva scored four straight baskets to end the frame.

The Storm fought back in the fourth quarter after two three-point shots from reserve Sami Whitcomb, who had 16 on the night. Sparks rookie Marina Mabrey scored all 10 of her points in the period, which countered Seattle’s 9-0 run in the last three minutes.

Alysha Clark also scored 16 points for the Storm, who shot 43 percent on the day and went to the free throw line only six times, while their opponents were 13-15 from the stripe.

Los Angeles coach Derek Fisher credited his team for their offensive steadiness.

“We have talked about this Seattle team and how good they are with forcing turnovers,” he said. “We talked about having the patience and discipline not to squeeze off the first shot they see if it’s an average shot. As a group, they made a collective effort to make sure that they passed up a decent shot for a better one.”

Ogwumike said the Sparks, who have had changing lineups due to injuries this season, said she and her teammates got into a flow.

“I think that we played really well in transition,” Ogwumike said. “I would say it was a good transition offensive game, and the assists of course come with having Chelsea as a point guard, but also [from] us moving our bodies, us moving the ball, and us understanding each other.”

Storm forward Natasha Howard, who scored 13 points, saw her time on the floor limited as she picked up her third foul early in the second quarter. Coach Dan Hughes said that was one factor in the loss.

“We had to sit her most of, if not all of, the third quarter. That hurt us a little bit and they were able to separate,” he said. “You look and see that we outscored them in the second half, but they’re going in outscoring us by three and then we go back and forth, but then they separated in the second quarter.”

Seattle point guard Jordin Canada said they couldn’t overcome a slow start.

“We weren’t as sharp as we normally are, but we came out of the gate on the wrong foot,” she said. “When you play a team like this you have to bring it all four quarters. I’m proud with how we bounced back in the second half overall, but that first half really hurt us.”

The Storm have lost three consecutive games.

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