It was not meant to be on Friday night in the nation’s capital for the LA Sparks. The Washington Mystics, through a Natasha Cloud buzzer-beating jumper, beat the Sparks 69-67.
“Natasha [Cloud] hit a good shot. Alana [Beard] had good defense on her, stayed right in the play, she just hit a tough shot,” Brian Agler said.
The Sparks were effective as a team. Four scored in double digits, with Riquana Williams, who got her second straight start, leading the way. Overall, she shot 5-9 from the field and hit 50% of her shots from behind the three point line.
Candace Parker, Chelsea Gray, and Nneka Ogwumike contributed with 13 and ten respectively.
Sparks, Mystics Battle in the First Half
LA’s defeat to the Mystics was not always inevitable. During the opening ten minutes, Agler’s squad dominated the proceedings. The Sparks stormed out to an early 6-0 lead, with Alana Beard and Parker leading the charge.
Everyone got involved that quarter. Parker drilled a three point shot. Then, Ogwumike hit a nifty layup at the rim. LA continued their run through, Gray who contributed with a three-pointer of her own, which gave her team a 12 point lead. But Washington clawed their way back into the game, scoring ten of the final 13 points.
During the second frame, action got more tense, especially from the Mystics perspective. Washington forced four turnovers that quarter, giving them more offensive possession. And they capitalized on them, making 42% of their field goal attempts.
At the end of the opening half, Parker and Tianna Hawkins got into a bit of an altercation. After Parker fouled Elena Delle Donne, the two had to be separated following a heated discussion. Both were issued a technical once the refs had time to look at the play.
Washington Win it at the Buzzer
Coming out in the third, LA turned up the intensity on the defensive end. They held Washington to 33% shooting from the field. The Mystics also only made two three point attempts during that quarter.
While the Sparks themselves did not have a great shooting quarter, they were more efficient overall, making more baskets on fewer shots. Gray drilled another long range jumper and the advantage extended to eight.
“Everybody is playing for something. It’s getting to the end of the season. Everybody is playing for seedings,” Agler said.
In the final quarter, however, things just were not clicking for the Sparks. Only three players scored and Parker went a dismal 0-2.
“I think, defensively, giving up second chance points,” Parker said, when talking about the difference in the game.
“I think ten of their first quarter points were off of offensive rebounds, our scoring drought that we had, we didn’t score for, I don’t know, how many possessions. I think that’s what it came down to.”
With this loss, the Sparks can still fall somewhere between the fourth seed and the sixth position battle.
The LA Sparks will play their final game of the regular season on Sunday against the Connecticut Sun at 12:00 PM.