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Sun find a way to get past Los Angeles for a big road win

Connecticut’s Chiney Ogwumike (13), shown earlier this year against Washington, scored the game-winning basket with 18.5 seconds left to lift the Sun past Los Angeles Tuesday night.

The Connecticut Sun found a way to get it done Tuesday night in Los Angeles. The Sun picked up a huge win on the road with a 73-72 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks at Staples Arena.

Chiney Ogwumike scored a layup in the paint with 18.5 seconds left in the game and the Sun forced a Sparks turnover with 3.2 seconds remaining to secure the victory.

Connecticut (10-7) led by as many as 20 points only to see the Sparks take the lead for the first time in the game with 5:22 remaining. The Sparks led by one, 69-68 with 52 seconds remaining only to see Connecticut guard Jasmine Thomas drain a three-point shot with 40.5 seconds left to give the Sun a two-point lead.

It was only the second field goal of the game for Thomas, who played just under 20 minutes and finished with a season-low five points. The Sun got big contributions off the bench from Betnijah Lahey, who was 3-of-5 from the field for nine points, Alex Bentley (10 points) and Morgan Tuck (five points).

Ogwumike had a game-high 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting along with pulling down seven rebounds.

The Sun got it done with two starters missing from the lineup. Forward Alyssa Thomas (12.0 points, 9.0 rebounds per game) missed her eighth straight game after hurting her shoulder against Washington on June 13. She was in uniform but didn’t play.

Starting guard Courtney Williams (12.3 ppg) missed her second consecutive game for personal reasons.

It was Connecticut’s first victory over a team with a winning record since beating Washington on June 3 and the fourth win of the season on the road.

Los Angeles (12-6) took the lead for the first time thanks to an 11-0 run with 4:10 remaining in the game. The Sparks still led by three, 67-64 when Jasmine Thomas hit her first basket of the game with 1:58 remaining on a layup to pull the Sun within one.

Ogwumike hit two free throws with 1:15 left to put Connecticut up by one, 68-67 only to see her sister Nneka Ogwumike hit a basket from the corner with 52 seconds left to give the Sparks a 69-68 lead.

Jasmine Thomas hit a three-point shot with 40.5 seconds to give the Sun a 71-69 lead but Nneka Ogwumike scored over Connecticut’s Jonquel Jones in the lane and sank a foul shot for a three-point play and a 72-71 lead with 27.9 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

Chiney Ogwumike scored in the lane over Candance Parker with 18.5 seconds left on a nice feed from Jasmine Thomas. And at the other end of the floor, the Sun played tough defense that forced Los Angeles’ Chelsea Gray to turn it over with 3.2 seconds remaining.

Parker, who didn’t score a point in the first half, scored all 17 of her points in the second half including 12 points in the third quarter. The Sun limited Los Angeles to just eight points in the first quarter, outscoring the Sparks, 18-8.

Nneka Ogwumike had 20 points for the Sparks while Gray had 12 points.

This was the second game of a four-game road trip on the West Coast. The Sun lost to Seattle on Sunday night. Connecticut travels to Phoenix for a game on Thursday night at 10 p.m. and closes out the road trip with a game in the desert in Las Vegas with the Aces on Saturday night at 10:30 p.m.

The Sun are in the midst of a month-long road trip that has seen them play nine of 10 games on the road with six of the nine games on the West Coast.

Laney has scored 20 points in the last two games, including 11 against Seattle on Saturday night. It’s her highest scoring output of the season to date. Banham scored 11 points and had a team-high six assists in her second start of the season. Bentley had scored 25 points in the last two games.

The win gave Connecticut the season series over the Sparks, having won two of the three games between the two teams. The Sun beat Los Angeles, 102-94 at the Mohegan Sun Arena on May 24.

NOTES: Connecticut does own a win over Minnesota (10-7) on June 9 but the Lynx were 3-6 at the time. … Connecticut finishes the 2018 campaign with 11 of their last 15 games at home and the last four regular season games of the season.

 

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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