LOS ANGELES — The losing streak is over!
After the Sparks went up by double figures, the Fever battled back to take a 5-point lead late. The Sparks came back themselves and won it with a pull-up Jordin Canada three with 3.2 seconds left. The Fever were unable to get a good shot off and the Sparks finally get a W, 79-78.
It was a pretty even first quarter. Lexie Hull got in two quick lay-ups. Victoria Vivians led the Fever with 7 points. But the Sparks went to Nneka Ogwumike early and often and scored 8 points. The Fever led after one, 22-20.
In the second period, Nneka continued to do damage inside against Indiana. The Fever did their best to slow it down as they went to Boston more in the post. Then Azurá Stevens and Jordin Canada came on with big buckets late in the half. The Sparks led by the break, 47-38.
The Sparks built a double-digit lead in the third quarter but you know how these leads go; they evaporate quickly. Victoria Vivians led a 10-0 run and it cut the deficit to one. Nneka tried to hold them off with a trifecta of jumpers. But Kelsey Mitchell’s jumper gave the Fever their first lead in the second half going into the fourth, 61-60.
Emma Cannon made huge back-to-back buckets to put the Fever up five. While Layshia Clarendon made a bit of a wacky attempt to beat the shot clock, Kelsey Mitchell and Vivians made a couple of buckets to bring the lead back to five. A foul away from the ball by Mitchell proved a bit critical as it gave the Sparks a free throw plus possession. Jordin Canada’s free throw followed by Nneka making two freebies tied the game at 72.
Nneka got the offensive board and the lay-up to pull the Sparks within two, 78-76, with 37 seconds left. Vivians missed the three in the following possession. Zia Cooke got the board with 11.1 seconds left and it set the stage for this:
Jordin Canada’s third three gave the Sparks the lead with 3.2 seconds left! Kelsey Mitchell put up the three in the final possession and it didn’t hit rim. The 8-game skid by the Sparks is over!
Of course, I had to ask Coach Curt Miller about the game-winner.
And yes, Jordin Canada was asked about it.
Coach Miller was asked about the job they did in the post and containing Aliyah Boston (which I asked, before the game, how they would do it).
Yes, the Sparks decided to match the Fever’s game in the post. And ironically (as Coach Miller pointed out), it was a three-pointer that won it for them. Aliyah Boston got in foul trouble (for the second game in a row) and she didn’t get single coverage, especially as the game wore on. While the Fever did have a late lead, the Sparks played more physical and was drawing quite a lot of fouls towards the end. With Boston struggling, the scoring went to Victoria Vivians early and then Kelsey Mitchell late.
Nneka Ogwumike seemed to score at will; she ended with a season-best 30 points. Jordin Canada did a great job balancing scoring and facilitating with her first 20-point, 10-assist game of the season. Azura Stevens was huge with 15 points, 6 boards, and three blocks.
Kelsey Mitchell scored 19 while Vivians ended with 17. Erica Wheeler finished with 15-5-8. Aliyah Boston was 3 for 9 (.333) and ended with 9 points.
As mentioned, the win ends a franchise-record 8-game losing streak for the Sparks. It was such a close game throughout but a win is a win. Now let’s see if the Sparks can build off that win in their next game with the same Fever team on Thursday afternoon.