Los Angeles, CA – The LA Sparks (5-5) played a rollercoaster of a game with twelve lead changes and one tie against the Phoenix Mercury (5-7) Wednesday night to reign victorious, 85-80, in Los Angeles.
Erica Wheeler stole the show to record her first career double-double dropping 18 points and dishing 10 assists.
With .08 seconds left in the final quarter, 5’7” Wheeler hit a clutch jumper over 6’9” Brittney Griner to seal the deal to create a 5 point lead, 85-80.
Wheeler had ice in her veins.
Phoenix tried to make a play, but Griner was charged with an offensive foul on a screen. They turned the ball over, and that was all she wrote.
Wheeler has proven herself to be an elite closer as she leads the league in clutch points.
“I’m a person and a player that likes pressure. That’s my life. That’s when I’m at my best. My coaches and my teammates believe in me. I definitely shot the ball with confidence,” said Wheeler.
The LA Sparks had a very solid performance as a unit. They had excellent movement without the ball, forced 11 turnovers, and simply maintained their composure no matter how many times Phoenix tried to make a run.
After Phoenix was down 10 points at the half, 53-43, their execution got them back in the game to lead by a point, 63-62, with 2:09 to go in the third quarter.
As soon as Phoenix thought they had a chance, the LA Sparks came storming back and erased any hope for their opponent.
Brittney Sykes drilled a bucket to tie the score at sixty-six with .44 left to go in the third quarter. She then came back down and hit another pivotal open jumper to retake the lead, 68-66, in the final possession of the third quarter.
The LA Sparks were unfazed and led all throughout the final period.
“We know that if we stay locked in, we can compete with anybody,” said Kristi Toliver.
The LA Sparks dominated the points in the paint to go for 40 and scored 23 second chance opportunities.
A key factor to that success was rebounding, as the team grabbed a total of 35 boards.
“Our perimeter players really stepped up and got some boards for us. We were thankful to get this win. Everyone gave us something tonight,” said Head Coach Derek Fisher.
Tea Cooper was out due to a one game suspension for leaving the sideline area, and running to an on court altercation last Saturday against the Minnesota Lynx.
The LA Sparks go for their second straight win against the Phoenix Mercury this Friday, June 18 at 7:30 p.m.