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Sparks Outlast Lynx, 76-72

WNBA: Mabika's 21 points, Leslie's late scoring carry L.A. to 10th consecutive victory over Minnesota.

June 09, 2002|From Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — The defending WNBA champion Los Angeles Sparks continue to frustrate the Minnesota Lynx.

Mwadi Mabika scored 21 points and Lisa Leslie shook off foul trouble to score seven points in the final 4 minutes 17 seconds, and the Sparks defeated the Lynx, 76-72, Saturday night.

"The Lynx are a physical, aggressive team," Spark Coach Michael Cooper said. "We couldn't just look to one player. We have to be a five-player team."

The Sparks (5-1) have defeated the Lynx 10 consecutive times and have never lost at Minneapolis.

Minnesota won the first meeting between the teams, 86-73, on June 24, 1999.

After trailing by as many as 13 points in the first half, Minnesota pulled within three points three times in the second half, the last time at 62-59 with 7:03 remaining.

The Lynx (2-3) could have gotten within two, but Val Whiting-Raymond missed two free throws with 4:33 left.

Leslie, who hadn't scored since the first minute because of foul trouble, made two layups, and Mabika converted a three-point play with 2:52 to go to put the Sparks ahead, 71-64.

Svetlana Abrosimova scored 23 points to lead the Lynx, and Katie Smith had 22.

Minnesota made only 16 of 31 free throws.

"Part of the game is making free throws," Abrosimova said. "We make them during practice. We have no excuses."

Leslie, the WNBA's fourth-leading scorer at 19 points per game, picked up her fifth foul with 11:48 to play. She finished with 10 points.

Abrosimova scored seven points in a 9-0 run that ended the first half and pulled Minnesota within 41-37.

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