Stars hold on to edge Sparks

Contributor
June 22, 2014 - 11:35pm
Danielle Robinson tries to out run Nneka Ogwumike in the first half - photo by Jorge Cruz, Prensa Internacional.

Danielle Robinson tries to out run Nneka Ogwumike in the first half - photo by Jorge Cruz, Prensa Internacional.

Nneka Ogwumike soars for two of her 24 points. She also had 11 rebounds - photo by Jorge Cruz, Prensa Internacional.

Nneka Ogwumike soars for two of her 24 points. She also had 11 rebounds - photo by Jorge Cruz, Prensa Internacional.

Stars 72, Sparks 69

Los Angeles, Calif. - The San Antonio Stars hung on in the last minute Sunday to edge the Los Angeles Sparks, 72-69.

Stars guard Danielle Robinson made a driving layup with 47 seconds to go to tie the score at 69. Then, with 8.4 seconds remaining she did it again. A foul on the other end of the court sent Robinson to the free throw line with one second to go, and she made one free throw for the final scoring margin.

Robinson and Danielle Adams each had 13 points, while Becky Hammon added 11. Nneka Ogwumike lead the Sparks with 24 points and 11 rebounds, while Candace Parker added 17 points, and Jantel Lavender had 14 points and 13 rebounds.

The game, which featured six lead changes and seven ties, saw neither team have a bigger lead than seven points. The main difference for the Sparks was their season-high 22 turnovers, and their 1-11 three-point shooting. Though they out-rebounded the visitors, 39-25, Los Angeles also matched their season low of five steals.

Robinson credited the win to teamwork and execution.

"Plays like that you just have to be confident in your team and trust one another," she said. "We knew we'd have to come up with a big defensive stop and we got it. Coach called a play for a pick-and-roll, and we had to focus and just mentally prepare to execute the play. We got the stop and were able to score on the offensive end."

Adams said San Antonio wanted to set the tone early by starting the game strong.

"We know if we get off to a bad start we have a hard time catching up, so we just came out aggressive the first quarter and kept building," Adams said. "Our chemistry is good and our defense is coming along. If we play good defense, the offense will come. It's a team effort trying to stop (the Sparks)."

Asked whether it was physical or mental strength that pulled the Stars through, coach Dan Hughes said it was some of both.

"Probably our depth pulled us through," he said. "We play a lot of players, we got people in situations where it's not so much physical fatigue that they're dealing with. That's one of the things this team has to have to be successful. Every player I played scored. And you have people with 20 minutes instead of 35 or 40."

Sparks coach Carol Ross acknowledged her team's problem.

“Turnovers. They got 20 points off of 23 turnovers. You’re certainly not going to beat a good team like San Antonio who is so good on the offensive side of the ball if you take those possessions away from us. It’s just too much to overcome.”

The Stars improve to 7-6, and have won three straight. The Sparks fall to 4-8.

"Our whole team is stepping up - it's a collective effort," Adams said of San Antonio. "We feed off each other's energy and passion out there."

Veteran Becky Hammon said the Stars, who got off to a slow start this season, have only just begun to grow.

"We're a work in progress. We're the team that has a high ceiling," Hammon said. "At the end of the year we're going to be a much different team than they are now, whereas some of the other teams it seems like, where they are now is where they are."

"We have so many young kids, we have so much chemistry and we have people still trying to get healthy, I feel like we're going to be a team that gets better."