Jordin Canada scored 21 points and dished out eight assists Friday night as the Los Angeles Sparks wiped out a five-point deficit late in the fourth quarter and knocked off the defending WNBA champion Chicago Sky 98-91 in overtime in each team’s season opener in Chicago.
Nneka Oguwmike added 19 points for Los Angeles, which outscored the Sky 10-3 in the extra period. Liz Cambage, Lexie Brown and Chennedy Carter each contributed 12. Brown and Carter’s output helped the Sparks earn a 37-10 advantage in bench points.
All five starters scored in double figures for Chicago, led by Dana Evans’ game-high 24 points. Candace Parker added 21, while Azure Stevens hit for 13 points. Emma Meesseman chipped in 12 and Courtney Vandersloot tallied 11 points.
Los Angeles forced overtime when Canada canned three foul shots with 1.5 seconds left in regulation after Evans was whistled for a foul on a 3-point attempt. Replays appeared to show Evans shying away from Canada and largely avoiding contact.
The Sparks controlled bonus basketball, Canada’s layup giving them the lead for good with 2:44 remaining. The Sky managed just one Evans free throw after Vandersloot’s driving layup at the 3:18 mark.
Los Angeles canned 27 of 33 free throws and forced a whopping 25 turnovers.
The Sky established a 12-2 lead less than 3 1/2 minutes into the game as Parker fed Stevens for a layup, but the Sparks worked their way back within 25-24 at period’s end when Carter turned a turnover into a layup.
Los Angeles used defense to grab the advantage in the second quarter, holding Chicago to 14 points. Ogwumike capped a 15-point half when she turned Canada’s pass into a layup, giving the Sparks a 42-39 edge at the break.
But the Sky exploded for 30 third quarter points, spearheaded by Parker and Evans. It was Evans that gave them a 69-66 advantage going to the fourth with a 3-pointer and a floater in the final minute.
–Field Level Media