Los Angeles Sparks beat Indiana Fever to clinch playoffs

Nneka Ogwumike recorded 17 points, seven rebounds and five steals and the Los Angeles Sparks clinched a playoff spot by trouncing the visiting Indiana Fever 98-65 on Thursday night.

Chiney Ogwumike added 15 points off the bench on 7-of-8 shooting for Los Angeles (17-10), which won for the seventh time in the past nine games. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt scored 11 points while Chelsea Gray and Kalani Brown added 10 apiece.

Riquna Williams returned from a 10-game domestic-violence suspension to contribute 10 points and five rebounds in 28 minutes for the Sparks, who won their 10th straight home game.

Kelsey Mitchell made four 3-pointers while scoring 14 points for the Fever (9-19), who lost their third straight game. Candice Dupree added 10 points.

The Sparks matched their season high for points while shooting 50 percent from the field, including 6 of 20 from 3-point range. Los Angeles held a 41-27 rebounding edge and committed 13 turnovers while becoming the fourth team to land a playoff spot.

“It feels great, but we’re not satisfied,” Chiney Ogwumike said in a postgame interview with CBS Sports Network. “One game at a time, we have to handle them all.”

Indiana had 18 turnovers while shooting 38.3 percent from the floor and connecting on 6 of 17 from behind the arc.

The Sparks used a 14-3 run to open the second half to turn a 12-point edge into a 57-34 lead with 6:04 left in the third quarter. 

The lead reached 29 when Sydney Wiese buried a 3-pointer to make it 69-40 with 1:59 remaining. The score was 70-42 entering the final stanza.

Chiney Ogwumike’s basket pushed the Los Angeles lead to 74-42 with 8:54 remaining in the game. The Sparks’ lead topped at 38 points, reached on Marina Mabrey’s layup to make it 92-54 with 3:07 left. Nneka Ogwumike had 11 points and seven rebounds in the first half as Los Angeles held a 43-31 lead.

Indiana started strong and led 20-14 after the first quarter. But Los Angeles dominated the second quarter by outscoring the Fever 29-11.

Indiana’s last lead was at 26-25 on Erica Wheeler’s basket with 5:52 left. The Sparks scored 18 of the final 23 points of the half for the 12-point advantage.

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