Og­wu­mike lifts Sparks to ti­tle over Lynx

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Dave Camp­bell

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.

JIM MONE — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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.

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