Parker leads Sparks in 87-81 win over Sun
UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) Candace Parker did a little of everything to help Los Angeles beat Connecticut.
Parker had 33 points, 16 rebounds, eight assists and five blocks to lead the Sparks to an 87-81 victory over the Sun on Wednesday night.
"Typical world-class," Connecticut's Kara Lawson said. "There's not many people in the world much better. ... She had her way with us tonight."
Parker's biggest play of the night came with about 1:10 to go when, with the Sun leading 81-80, she blocked a layup attempt by the Sun center Tina Charles on a fast break.
"I actually didn't see (Charles) when Kara was dribbling, to be honest with you," Parker said. "I just tried to go put (up) my left (hand) and get it."
Asjha Jones fouled the Sparks' Nneka Ogwumike as Los Angeles the Sparks brought the ball up and the rookie made both her free throws to put the Sparks ahead for good with 1:05 to go.
The Sun missed three shots on their next possession and Ogwumike converted a three-point play to extend the Sparks' lead to 85-81. Parker closed the scoring with two free throws with 1.6 seconds remaining.
"It's a tremendous win," Sparks coach Carol Ross said. "Anytime you come to Connecticut and you beat the Sun, you have done something because most teams are not able to accomplish that. Connecticut is such a good team and they have a great home court and for us to be able to come in and stay resilient ... We just kept battling and we felt very fortunate to get out of here with a win."
Ogwumike, the top pick in this year's WNBA draft, had 18 points on 7-for-7 shooting and grabbed five rebounds for Los Angeles (7-1).
"She's the type of player that when I miss a shot, I know she's going to get the rebound," Parker said. "I'm more comfortable taking shots, and I know that when she gets the ball, it's going to be a good play."
Los Angeles reserve Jantel Lavender added 10 points on 5-for-8 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds.
Charles had 19 points and 13 rebounds to lead Connecticut (6-2). Lawson had 16 points and four assists and Jones added 10 points and eight rebounds. Renee Montgomery scored 12 points and Tan White had 11 to give the Sun five scorers in double figures.
The Sparks shot 46 percent (33 for 72), including Parker's 12-for-22 effort. The Sun shot just 33 percent (28 of 84), with Charles going 8 for 26.
"Their length played a part, certainly, when we drove," Lawson said. "When we were decisive offensively, good things happened. When we were passive, or waiting for something to happen, and when they went to zone, it was not good."
Connecticut trailed 80-75 when Lawson and Charles made two free throws each 29 seconds apart to pull the Sun within a point with 2:00 to go.
Charles' putback of her own miss - Connecticut's only basket on 15 shots over the final 6:10 of the game - put the Sun ahead 33 seconds later.
Ogwumike's three-point play tied the score at 75-all with 5:03 remaining. Parker followed with a 3-pointer and a putback to give the Sparks an 80-75 edge with 3:08 left.
"We just didn't shoot the ball, nobody had a great shooting night for us," Sun coach Mike Thibault said. "We just seemed to rush things in the second half. We couldn't catch it, we fumbled it a little bit, I don't know if the length bothered us, but we were just in a hurry. They did a good job with their zone change and their momentum of the game. ... We got the lead back and then we just couldn't sustain it."
Connecticut led 45-40 at halftime and scored six consecutive points to extend their lead to eight a little more than 2 minutes into the third quarter.
The Sparks scored the next 10 points to take a 54-52 lead with about 5 1/2 minutes left in the quarter.
The teams played close the rest of the way, with Connecticut's four-point lead late in the third the largest lead for either team until the final minutes.
Updated June 13, 2012