Ogwumike lifts Sparks to title over Lynx
Nneka Ogwumike’s short jumper with 3.1 seconds left gave the Los Angeles Sparks a 77-76 victory over the defending champion Minnesota Lynx for their first title in 14 years in the deciding game of the WNBA Finals on Thursday night.
The league MVP joined her teammates in celebration as a stunned crowd slowly filed out after finishing with 12 points and 12 rebounds. Candace Parker had 28 points and 12 rebounds to earn MVP honors of the Finals. It was Parker’s first WNBA title.
“She’s been through so much,” Ogwumike said of Parker. “She’s probably the most misunderstood person in the league. I told her I wanted her to get one. She had an awesome game tonight. She’s been our leader.”
Parker said she listened to one of Pat Summitt’s speeches before the game and that motivated her. Her former coach at Tennessee died in late June.
“She would have been proud of our rebounding. It came down to rebounding and defense,” Parker said. “I could hear her voice telling me to keep going. She was definitely present tonight.”
Rebekkah Brunson made one of two free throws with 23 seconds left to give the Lynx a 74-73 lead. Parker answered with a layup on the other end that Maya Moore countered with a jumper with 15 seconds remaining. Ogwumike’s first try for the win was off the mark, but she worked her way over to the loose ball for another attempt that she coolly swished.
Lindsay Whalen’s final shot from just inside halfcourt wasn’t close, setting off Los Angeles’ celebration as Parker and Sparks owner Magic Johnson embraced in a long hug.
Moore had 23 points and 11 assists for the Lynx, who fell short of matching the WNBA record of four championships. The Houston Comets won four straight titles from 1997-2000.
The Lynx played in the finals for the fifth time in the last six years. They won three.
Parker finally had help with the scoring when reserve Chelsea Gray reeled off 11 consecutive points for the Sparks. Gray capped that run with a smooth up-and-under layup to put them in front 60-59 early in the fourth quarter. Parker’s putback with 3:06 left gave L.A. a 71-63 lead, putting the Lynx in trouble.
Los Angeles Sparks’ Nneka Ogwumike, left, shoots the decisive game wining shot with about 4 seconds left over Minnesota Lynx defender Sylvia Fowles as the Sparks won the WNBA championship with a 77-76 win over the Lynx in Game 5 of the finals Thursday in Minneapolis.