Ogwumike leads Sparks past Storm, 70-56
SEATTLE (AP) Maybe it's the mask.
Nneka Ogwumike scored 21 points for her fifth straight game in the 20s and the Los Angeles Sparks beat the Seattle Storm, 70-56 on Thursday night.
Candace Parker added 17 points and 10 rebounds for Los Angeles (7-9), and Chantel Lavender had 11 points. The Sparks shot 68 percent in the second and third quarters.
Ogwumike, coming off a season-high, 26-point performance Tuesday night in a loss to Chicago, was 10 of 16 from the floor. She has 113 points in the past five games on 64 percent shooting (48 of 75). She has worn a facemask the past few games to protect a bruised nose.
''It's taking me back to my freshman year at Stanford. I broke my nose that year and had to wear that mask the whole year,'' Ogwumike said. ''My periphery vision is a little bit handicapped, but otherwise, I don't think about it.''
Added Sparks coach Carol Ross: ''Nneka put that mask on, and she has been a beast. She has just been playing at a very, very high level. I'm glad her effort finally turned into a win. You hate wasting a great effort (Tuesday.''
Crystal Langhorne led the Storm (7-12) with 19 points and had eight rebounds. Shekinna Stricklen came off the bench to score 11 points, and Temeka Johnson had 10.
''I thought we struggled defending Parker and Ogwumike at times. We just made it way too easy for them,'' Seattle coach Brian Agler said. ''They're good players, and very skilled, and they made some really good shots and moves on us. But I wish we would have competed a little bit tougher against them.''
Los Angeles broke the game open by hitting 19 of 28 shots in the second and third quarters. That included three straight makes by Ogwumike midway through the third to push her past 20 points again. The Sparks shot 50.8 percent for the game. Seattle shot 39.7 percent.
The Storm played without scoring leader Camille Little because of her grandfather's death.
Los Angeles held Seattle scoreless for 5 minutes, 14 seconds bridging the first and second quarters, scoring eight straight points to take a 20-12 lead. After the Storm twice got within five, the last time at 25-20, the Sparks closed the half on a 15-2 run to take a 40-22 halftime advantage.