Ogwumike and Cambage help Sparks beat Mercury and break 5-game skid

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Nneka Ogwumike scored 23 points, Liz Cambage scored 21, and the Los Angeles Sparks beat the Phoenix Mercurys 99-95 on Wednesday night to end a five-game losing streak.

Katie Lou Samuelson, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 WNBA Draft, hit four 3-pointers and finished with 17 points — two career highs — for Los Angeles. Chennedy Carter had 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting in 17 minutes off the bench, and Lexie Brown added 10 points.

Carter made a layup to close out the first quarter and Ogwumike scored in the paint 18 seconds into the second to make it 24-22 and the Sparks led the rest of the way.

Diana Taurasi made three free throws to spark an 11-2 run over 2 1/2 minutes that cut Mercury’s deficit to 97-94 when Taurasi made two more free throws with a minute left. Cambage was called for an offensive foul with 41.8 remaining but Samuelson blocked a Skylar Diggins-Smith shot and secured the rebound as Los Angeles held on.

The Sparks (3-5) scored their most points in a game this season. Los Angeles has averaged 75 points — and never scored more than 84 — in the previous five games after averaging 92.5 in straight wins to open the season.

The Mercurys (2-5) have lost four in a row. Diggins-Smith, the team’s leading scorer with 17.0 points per game, returned after a two-game absence due to non-COVID illness. The four-time All-WNBA selection (first two teams) had 28 points on 11-of-17 shooting and three steals.

Tina Charles scored 21 points. Diamond DeShields — who averaged 20.5 points in Diggins-Smith’s absence — had 17 career points and nine assists, while Brianna Turner added 10 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals. Taurasi finished with 11 points on 2-of-10 shooting.

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