Los Angeles Sparks defeat Seattle Storm in preseason finale

Los Angeles Sparks surge to a win in their preseason finale against the Seattle Storm.

Rookie guard Marina Mabrey has had a productive preseason for the Los Angeles Sparks. | Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Sparks via Twitter

The Los Angeles Sparks beat the Seattle Storm 92-85 as they put Seattle’s late fourth-quarter rally on halt as they held onto to a comfortable lead to close the game at Pasadena City College on Friday night.

Los Angeles had a huge second half as they outscored Seattle 29-10 in the third quarter thanks to them putting big defensive pressure on the Storm and only allowing Seattle to score 10 points in the quarter.

The Sparks entered the second half just down by five points and were able to come out with different intensity on both ends of the floor in the third quarter.

The behind-the-back pass by Chiney Ogwumike to Nneka Ogwumike in the transition was a sequence that was the epitome of the Sparks’ third-quarter production. Chiney Ogwumike was nervous about executing that pass to her older sister, but the end result paid off in the end.

“It was a great preview of what fans can expect,” Nneka Ogwumike said.

Nneka Ogwumike scored 10 of her team-high 18 points in the third quarter.

Maria Vadeeva had a bit of a scoring run of her own late in the third quarter as she scored five quick points. Sydney Wiese also scored five points in the third to help the Sparks continue to build their lead.

Recently, re-signed Riquna Williams was back to game form in this contest despite only scoring six points. Part of Williams’ performance was not reflected in the box score as she was competitive and tough on the defensive end.

“Her competitive spirit tonight really changed the momentum of this game,” head coach Derek Fisher said of Williams’ play.

Los Angeles built on their lead to start the fourth quarter as they went on an 8-4 run. The Sparks steadily continued their lead as Seattle kept inching their way back into the game. Los Angeles jumped out to a 20-point lead with just a little over seven minutes to go on a Marina Mabrey driving lay-up.

Mabrey’s driving lay-up in the fourth that extended the Sparks’ lead to 20 was just one of the many contributions she had in the game. She picked up where she left off from the Phoenix game with tons of energy and competitive edge.

Mabrey finished with nine points, but like Williams’ much of her play was not shown on the box score. Mabrey was active throughout the game on the defensive end. Whether it was a steal and play in transition or just not backing down, Mabrey was ready for the challenge.

Mabrey’s play in both this game and the loss against the Phoenix Mercury has shown why she deserves a spot on the Sparks roster. Her ability to score efficiently and have energy on both ends of the floor is something that the Sparks need moving forward.

Ashley Walker also continued her production from the Phoenix game in this contest as she hit some quality shots. Walker finished the game, leading the Sparks bench with 12 points.

The bulk of Walker’s points came in the first half, but she was the Sparks leading scorer heading into halftime. Walker scored four-straight points in the first quarter that helped give Los Angeles a one-point lead going into the second.

Walker has been away from the league for about six years, but in these preseason games, she has been playing like a seasoned and confident veteran. Walker is a player that deserves huge considerations for a spot on the Sparks’ roster.

Los Angeles has a tough decision to make in regard to trimming the roster to 11-12 players due to a number of guaranteed contracts that are already in place.

The production of many players in the preseason could have cemented their spot on the roster while others who may get the boot. Nevertheless, whoever the Sparks have ready on the roster at opening night will be a deserving player.

Los Angeles opens their season on the road in Las Vegas against the Aces on May 26th at 5 p.m. PT then the Sparks have their season home-opener against the Connecticut Sun at 7:30 p.m. PT.

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