Los Angeles, CA – After being down 17 points in the second quarter, the LA Sparks (6-12) came roaring back late in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Storm (15-4). LA made a relentless run to chop their 17-point deficit down to a 1-point game, 60-61, with 2:00 left. But, it was to no avail as the Storm handed the Sparks their fifth straight loss, 71-62, Wednesday night in Seattle.
Another fourth quarter comeback by the Sparks made it a tight game down the stretch.
2019 WNBA MVP and Seattle star Breanna Stewart led all scorers with 27 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 steals.
Stewart came up clutch when her team needed her most.
At the 3:30 mark in the fourth quarter, the UConn product snatched a rebound out of the air and made a monster put back to give the Storm a 5-point lead, 59-54.
Rookie guard Arella Guirantes pulled the trigger to make it a 1-point game, 60-61, with 2:00 left.
The LA Sparks had a pulse, but not for long.
Stewart put the Storm on her back and took over the game. She hit a huge three to put her team up by seven with 1:00 left, 69-62.
That was the dagger.
“Breanna Stewart can’t be stopped,” said Erica Wheeler. “A player like that you contain. She’s going to make some tough shots because that’s who she is. Of course, she came in clutch tonight. But that’s expected. We knew the ball was going to go in her hands. We just got to do a better job on the defensive side.”
Wheeler led all Spark scorers with 22 points, 3 assists, and was the only Spark to score in double figures.
The Storm came out firing from the jump.
A 19-4 run by the Storm put them up, 23-9, over the Sparks at the end of the opening quarter.
The Sparks have been struggling offensively as they are still battling injuries from key players Nneka Ogwumike, Chiney Ogwumike, and Kristi Toliver. The Sparks are also missing Jasmine Walker, Maria Vadeeva, and Gabby Williams.
On the defensive end, the Sparks held the Storm to 71 points on 37.7% from the field. For the season, the Storm are averaging 88.1 points on 46.4% shooting.
Head Coach Derek Fisher commented on what he has learned from falling short of his team’s recent comebacks.
“I think we’re just learning how to compete. Those are things that you can’t really learn without the experience of going through it. It’s all happening in progress. Our record says one thing, but we’re proud of what this team is becoming,” said Fisher.
He added, “Whether we win or lose the games, you always have to move on to the next one. We’re not really defining ourselves by that at this time. We’re trying to continue to grow into who we are. At the same time, we’re not accepting the fact that we lost another game. It’s just temporary. This is not our final destination, so we still feel good about where we’re going.”
Guirantes tied her career high with 21 minutes and scored 6 points and 2 steals. She hit a couple of key shots that kept the Sparks in the game, and also made her presence known on the defensive end.
“I’m the person who likes to rise to occasions. I’m not really afraid of moments because I put the work in, and that shows when you need it the most. I think it showed up in certain basketball IQ plays. That’s where I was really most proud of because I showed a lot more than needing to have the ball in my hands all the time,” said Guirantes.
Nia Coffey (500) and Amanda Zahui B. (1000) both hit career milestones in field goal attempts.
The LA Sparks travel back home to take on the Minnesota Lynx for their last game before the Olympic break on Sunday, July 11 at 6 p.m.
This will also be their last game at the Convention Center before returning to their home floor at the Staples Center in August.