The Los Angeles Sparks had fought most of the way back from a 17-point deficit against the Seattle Storm on Saturday night. A Nneka Ogwumike layup brought the Sparks within three with 4:50 to play.
But Seattle guard Jordin Canada wouldn’t allow a comeback. The former UCLA standout made a layup on the next possession, then found Jewell Loyd for a 3-pointer to rebuild the lead to eight.
Then Canada hit two free throws with 35.5 seconds left, and the Sparks suffered a defensive collapse on an in-bounds play with one possession later to fall to the Storm 81-75 at IMG Academy in Florida.
A Chelsea Gary putback had the Sparks with four with 25.8 to play. Seattle called a timeout to advance the ball, and the Sparks lost track of Seattle forward Eziyoda Magbegor under the basket, and Alysha Clark found her for the clinching basket.
Candace Parker led the Sparks (2-2) with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Canada, starting in place of the resting Sue Bird, finished with 16 points for Seattle (3-1).
The Sparks fell into an early 9-0 hole, turning the ball over three times before scoring their first points. The Storm built up a 14-1 lead before Candace Parker hit a 3-pointer to end the bleeding.
But only temporarily. With the deficit still in double-figures midway through the first quarter, head coach Derek Fisher inserted Seimone Augustus off the bench to try to replicate the steadying presence she brought in Thursday’s win over Connecticut.
The Storm, though, did not relent, taking a 45-29 lead into halftime. The Sparks shot 11 for 36 from the field in the half while missing eight of 10 attempts from 3-point range.
Los Angeles trailed by as many as 17 with two minutes left in the third quarter. But the Sparks closed the quarter on an 8-1 run, started by a Riquna Williams jumper and capped by a fadeaway from Parker, to get back within 10.
When the fourth quarter started, that’s when Fisher got the desired effect from Augustus. The veteran forward went on her own 8-0 run to cut the Storm lead down to three. She nailed a turnaround jumper on the left block and then a pair of 3-pointers, the second of which forced Seattle to call a timeout.
But in the end, the Sparks couldn’t find a way to fully escape the early predicament they had created for themselves.