SEATTLE – Kristi Toliver scored 10 of her 25 points in the fourth quarter, and the Los Angeles Sparks overcame a 21-point deficit in the second half to beat the Seattle Storm, 72-66, on Friday night in the WNBA season opener.
Los Angeles outscored Seattle in the fourth quarter, 30-10, taking its first lead of the game on Toliver’s baseline reverse layup with 98 seconds remaining. The Sparks had lost seven of their previous nine games against Seattle.
Candace Parker added 11 points for Los Angeles, including a pair of key baskets in the comeback, and a tough shot in the lane with 28 seconds left.
Ann Wauters led Seattle with 17 points, and Sue Bird had 15.
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Toliver provided Los Angeles the energy off the bench it lacked in the early going when Seattle jumped to an 11-0 lead and appeared on the verge of turning the game into a blowout.
Toliver was 9-for-16 shooting from the field and was even left shaking her head after a 3-pointer from the top of the key with a minute left took a favorable bounce off the rim and fell through.
Former Stanford star Nneka Ogwumike, the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, finished with nine points – all in the second half. Alana Beard added nine points for Los Angeles.
Los Angeles’ massive rally started with a 10-2 run spanning the third and fourth quarters, pulling to 56-48 with 7:54 left on DeLisha Milton-Jones’ jumper. Jantel Lavender hit a baseline jumper for the Sparks, and Toliver scored on a drive to cut Seattle’s lead to 56-52.
After Tina Thompson’s 3-point attempt rimmed out for Seattle, Beard converted a difficult left-handed layup while being fouled. She missed the free throw, but Seattle’s lead was down to two.
Bird answered with a baseline layup with 5:29 left, Seattle’s first points of the fourth quarter. Seattle’s lead was back to 62-56 with 4:20 left when Tanisha Wright scored on a fast-break layup, but the Storm were outscored the rest of the way, 16-4.
Thompson finished with 12 points in her first game with Seattle.