Nneka Ogwumike scored a career-high 30 points and added 11 rebounds during… (Carlos Gonzalez / MCT )
Rookie Nneka Ogwumike scored a career-high 30 points and had 11 rebounds to help the Sparks beat the Chicago Sky, 86-77, on Thursday night at Staples Center.
Ogwumike scored nine of her 30 points in the first quarter as the Sparks started quickly and then kept Chicago at arm's length in the second half.
The Sparks led 27-18 after the first 10-minute period, and Ogwumike again came through in the final quarter, making a putback to give Los Angeles a 12-point lead, at 79-67, with 3:20 left. Chicago fought back, cutting the deficit to four, at 81-77, on Swin Cash's three-point shot with 51 seconds to go.
Then the Sparks polished off the victory with Kristi Toliver converting a free throw, Ogwumike making a layup and Alana Beard, who had 13 points, sinking two free throws.
DeLisha Milton-Jones scored 19 points and Candace Parker had 11 for the Sparks (21-10), who improved to 13-1 at home.
Cash, who had 19 of her 23 points in the second half, led the Sky (12-18), which was playing without Sylvia Fowles, an Olympian and the WNBA's second-leading rebounder, who sat out her third consecutive game because of a strained calf.
Fowles' absence was particularly evident on the boards, where the Sparks had a 35-24 rebounding advantage.