Sparks improve to 3-0 with a 79-72 overtime win at New York

Candace Parker, left, and Nneka Ogwumike have led the Sparks to a 3-0 start.

Candace Parker, left, and Nneka Ogwumike have led the Sparks to a 3-0 start.

(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Nneka Ogwumike’s big plays down the stretch helped Los Angeles rally and improve to 3-0 for the first time in 13 years.

Ogwumike had 25 points, including five in overtime, and 15 rebounds to help the Sparks beat the New York Liberty, 79-72, in overtime Saturday night.

That’s two road wins in less than 24 hours for the Sparks, who are on a 10-day trip.

“I think in the past we’ve kind of struggled on the road and for us to start our season with a long road trip and start it off with two wins that’s really great for us and speaks to our identity this year,” Ogwumike said.


Candace Parker finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Sparks. They improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2003.

Trailing 60-53 midway through the final quarter, Los Angeles rallied. Ogwumike’s three-point play with 54.5 seconds left and a three-pointer by Kristi Toliver tied it at 65 with 21.5 seconds left in regulation. Tina Charles had a chance to win it for New York in regulation, but her 15-foot jumper bounced off the rim.

In overtime, Ogwumike made a three-pointer and then added a layup to give Los Angeles a 73-70 lead. Toliver’s jumper made it a five-point lead with two minutes left. New York couldn’t get any closer.

Los Angeles played in Washington on Friday night, winning 97-67. The Sparks, who won each of their first two games by 30 points, came to New York on Saturday morning.

“It speaks to our team and our fight. We got into the hotel at 1:15 and had a meeting at three,” Parker said. “To be able to fight and win tonight after being down in the fourth, says a lot about our team. Nneka stepped up huge today. I’m really proud of the way we fought. It’s early in the season, we got to keep building.”

The Sparks have two games left on this 10-day trip, playing in Chicago on Tuesday and Connecticut on Thursday. The game against the Sky will be a homecoming for Parker and the contest against the Sun will give Ogwumike a chance to play against sister Chiney, who missed last season while recovering from a knee injury.


“It means a lot, I grew up there, my family and friends,” Parker said about the game in Chicago. “My grandma’s able to come.”

Charles had 17 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Liberty (2-1). They were trying to go 3-0 for the first time since 2007 when they won their first five games.

“Nneka did a great job all game for them,” Charles said. “Definitely we can learn from this.”

Brittany Boyd had nine points for New York after getting removed from the starting lineup. Boyd did a tremendous job as a rookie providing a spark off the bench for New York before she broke her left wrist last September. She was put into the starting lineup this year before the season started.