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Sparks 75, Mystics 57

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Nneka Ogwumike had 22 points and 10 rebounds, Lindsey Harding added 11 points and a career-high 14 assists, and the Los Angeles Sparks beat the Washington Mystics 75-57 on Sunday.

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Jantel Lavender had 13 points and 10 rebounds for her first double-double of the year, Marissa Coleman scored 11 points and Ebony Hoffman added 10 for the Sparks (13-7). Ogwumike's double-double was her sixth of the season.

Harding came within two assists of the league's all-time record of 16, set twice by Ticha Penicheiro, and within one of the team mark also set by Penecheiro in 2010. Harding's previous best was 10 (twice), and she had five previous eight-assist games this season.

``Lindsey's been really outstanding all year long,'' Sparks coach Carol Ross said. ``I'm hoping people start paying attention because she's been really good. She plays both sides of the floor very hard. And tonight was just a great night for her. But she's had a lot of very good nights.''

Los Angeles won the first of four straight road games against Eastern Conference opponents despite missing leading scorer and rebounder Candace Parker with a wrist injury for the second straight game. Ross said after the game that Parker was day-to-day.

``I think that the idea of this team is we want to be able to win a man down,'' Harding said. ``Whether it's me, whether it's Kristi (Toliver), or whether it's Candace. And also know that with her in, how good we will be and how good we can be.''

Crystal Langhorne scored 23 points for the Mystics (9-12), who lost their third straight game and fifth in their last six. The Mystics failed to score 60 points for the second time in that six-game stretch, and their 15 turnovers marked a sixth straight game with at least 10.

The Sparks led by seven at halftime and pulled away thanks to a 19-2 run keyed by Harding that stretched across parts of the third and fourth quarters.

Harding hit two 3-pointers in the run and converted a three-point play on a leaner and foul shot to make it 62-39 opening the fourth.

She then found Ogwumike on an inside feed to make 64-39 and cap the stretch, Harding's fourth assist during the game-sealing run.

``She hit some 3s tonight that were kind of daggers for us,'' Langhorne said of Harding. ``Today was pretty bad. When our offense isn't going, we have to get stops on defense and we're not doing that right now.''

Washington didn't close within 20 until Langhorne hit a late 3-pointer for the game's final field goal.

Los Angeles took a 33-26 lead into halftime after a first half filled with runs.

The Sparks rattled off a 21-2 run that made it 23-11 early in the second quarter before Washington responded with an 8-0 run and eventually closed to within 27-25 on Langhorne's leaner.

However, Ogwumike hit two more inside baskets - both on feeds from Harding - to give the Sparks their seven-point lead at the break.

By then Harding had already made eight assists to tie her season high, though she didn't know it until an assistant coach told her.

``I knew that I created,'' Harding said. ``I usually don't look at box scores at halftime. ... I just knew, hey, I just needed to continue to attack. Because whether I score or not, we have a lead and I wanted to make that lead bigger.''

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

  
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