Nneka Ogwumike, Liz Cambage help Sparks beat Mercury, snap five-game skid

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Nneka Ogwumike scored 23 points, Liz Cambage had 21 and the Sparks beat the Phoenix Mercury 99-94 on Wednesday night to snap a five-game losing streak.

Katie Lou Samuelson, the No. 4 overall pick in the 2019 WNBA draft, hit four three-pointers and finished with 17 points — both career highs — for Los Angeles. Chennedy Carter had 12 points on six-for-nine shooting in 17 minutes off the bench and Lexie Brown added 10 points.

Carter made a layup to close 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 ignite an 11-2 run over a 2 1/2-minute span that trimmed the Mercury’s deficit to 97-94 when Taurasi made two more free throws with a minute to play. Cambage was called for an offensive foul with 41.8 to go but Samuelson blocked a shot by Skylar Diggins-Smith and secured the rebound as Los Angeles held on.

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

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

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

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.