Toliver scores 15 to lead Sparks over Dream 77-73
Kristi Toliver scored 15 points, and Lindsey Harding and Alana Beard each added 13 to help the Los Angeles Sparks remain unbeaten at home with a 77-73 win over the Atlanta Dream on Wednesday night.
Nneka Ogwumike scored 12 points for the Sparks (11-4), who won their six straight overall and improved to 9-0 at home. Los Angeles extended its regular-season home winning streak to 19.
Harding made five free throws in the final 1:19, the last giving the Sparks a 74-68 lead. Angel McCoughtry sank a 3-pointer with 1.3 seconds remaining to pull Atlanta to 75-73 before Toliver made two free throws.
"They play very good defense, aggressive defense, and that can push you out of things," said Harding "It was definitely hard. We usually hit a lot more shots than we did tonight, but I think it was a great win because we had to rely on our defense."
McCoughtry scored 24 points to lead Atlanta (10-4), which played its second straight game without Sancho Lyttle (foot) and Tiffany Hayes (knee) because of injuries. Armintie Herrington scored 18 points, while Erika DeSouza had 15 points and 18 rebounds as the Dream lost three straight regular season games for the first time since it opened 0-3 in 2011.
"This is just a little adversity to get through the storm," McCoughtry said. "We'll be OK. We're still in a good position and we still have a great record."
The Sparks won despite being outscored 48-26 in the paint and being outrebounded 45-36, including 17-5 on the offensive boards. The game also totaled 37 fouls.
"I felt bad for the fans and the media," Candace Parker said with a laugh. "It was like the world's longest (game), but we grinded it out. It would be even longer than that if we lost, so I'm just happy in the way that we played and we just kept fighting. It was ugly, for sure."
Parker, who won Best WNBA Player at the ESPY Awards being held across the street from Staples Center, had one of her worst scoring games this season with six points on 2-for-10 shooting. But she grabbed 10 rebounds, made a key block with 1:43 remaining and grabbed a rebound off McCoughtry's miss with less than a minute left.
Ebony Hoffman made a jumper to give Los Angeles a 69-58 lead but Atlanta scored the next six points.
Hoffman made a reverse layup before Jenna O' Hea completed a four-point play on a step-through 3-pointer and ensuing free throw to make it 67-56.
Atlanta coach Fred Williams took positives away from the game considering his team's injuries and L.A.'s strength at home.
"We just wanted to come out and play hard," Williams said. "I thought our group did a fine job today on the road. Every game for us is a learning experience."