Nneka Ogwumike leads Sparks past Fever 77-74

AP - Sports

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Rookie forward Nneka Ogwumike had 22 points and 20 rebounds to help the Los Angeles Sparks beat the Indiana Fever 77-74 on Thursday night.

Ogwumike finished with 12 offensive rebounds, tying a WNBA record. Los Angeles outrebounded Indiana 47-31 and grabbed 23 offensive boards.

Candace Parker and Kristi Toliver each scored 19 points for the Sparks (15-6), who won their fifth straight in the final game for both teams before the Olympic break.

Indiana (10-7) had a chance to tie in the final seconds, but Tamika Catchings missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Catchings scored 27 points and Briann January added 11 for the Fever. Katie Douglas, Indiana's No. 2 scorer, finished with nine points on 3-for-14 shooting.

The game wasn't decided until the final minute.

Ogwumike was called for a foul while boxing out Erlana Larkins with 35.5 seconds left. Larkins could have given Indiana the lead, but she missed both free throws and Los Angeles rebounded. Toliver was fouled and made both of her free throws to give the Sparks a 77-74 advantage, setting up the final sequence.

Indiana led 39-30 at halftime. Catchings scored 15 points in the first half to carry an otherwise lackluster Fever offense. Indiana held Parker to six points on 3-for-9 shooting in the first half.

The Sparks rallied early in the second half. Parker's putback cut Indiana's lead to 41-39, and Los Angeles got as close as a point before two 3-pointers by January pushed Indiana's lead back to 51-44.

Parker made a free throw, then missed the second before Ogwumike scored on a putback. Larkins was called for a technical foul, Los Angeles made the free throw and suddenly it was a one-point game again.

The Sparks finally took the lead late in the third quarter, but Indiana hung tough. A pair of free throws by Catchings with 0.5 seconds left in the period gave the Fever a 57-56 lead heading into the fourth. Parker and Ogwumike each scored 10 points in the third to pull Los Angeles back into the game.

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