Sparks rally past Sun 87-81

Connecticut's Tina Charles scores over Los Angeles' Candace Parker during Wednesday night's WNBA game at Mohegan Sun Arena. The Sparks scored the final seven poins of the night to beat the Sun 87-81.
Connecticut's Tina Charles scores over Los Angeles' Candace Parker during Wednesday night's WNBA game at Mohegan Sun Arena. The Sparks scored the final seven poins of the night to beat the Sun 87-81. Sean D. Elliot/The Day Buy Photo

Mohegan - Her final numbers - 19 points and 13 rebounds - would be enough for other players in the WNBA to celebrate long into the night. Nothing else, though, better illustrates the standard Tina Charles has set for herself than the idea that 19 and 13 were a disappointment Wednesday night.

Charles finished her evening 8-for-26 from the field, while counterpart Candace Parker rained 33 points on the Sun, accompanied by 16 rebounds and eight assists. Parker and the Los Angeles Sparks rallied late and beat the Sun 87-81 before 6,058 fans at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Parker blocked a shot in transition in the final minute while the Sun attempted to extend a 1-point lead. Teammate Nneka Ogwumike, meanwhile, scored five straight points for Los Angeles, giving the Sparks their seventh win in eight tries.

Ogwumike made all seven field goal attempts and finished with 18 points.

The Sun shot 33 percent for the game and 23 percent in the second half.

"Give (Los Angeles) credit," Sun coach Mike Thibault said. "Parker and Ogwumike were terrific."

Parker scored nine of her 33 in the final 7:04. Her length also appeared to bother Charles while the Sun were on offense.

"You'd have to ask Tina," Thibault said. "(Parker's) length bothers a lot of people. I'm not going to speak for Tina. (Parker) made the play of the game on our fastbreak when we had a chance to open up the lead. She bothered that one. I know that."

Charles, who didn't appear particularly happy after the game, was asked if Parker's length was an issue, given that she shot 8-for-26.

"I don't even know how to answer that question," she said. "My mind is all over the place right now."

Sparks coach Carol Ross said, "I don't know that we did anything special (on Charles) but Candace is long and Nneka is quick. Charles is as good as there is, so you have to be mindful of her all the time."

The Sun trailed 80-75 with 2:29 left before four straight free throws and Charles' rebound basket gave the Sun an 81-80 lead. Connecticut (6-2) forced a turnover on Los Angeles' next possession. But it led to Parker's aforementioned block that changed the game.

"We talked about this as a measuring stick game," Parker said. "We had only played one team with a winning record (Minnesota) and we lost to them. Connecticut is a great team."

Kara Lawson had 16 for the Sun while Renee Montgomery had 15 points on 4-for-15 shooting. Tan White had 11 off the bench and Asjha Jones scored 10.

Jones, Charles and Mistie Mims shot a combined 13-for-38.

Allison Hightower held Sparks leading scorer Kristy Tolliver to five points, 14 below her average.

The Sun play New York on Friday night at Mohegan Sun Arena.

• Charles was presented with the Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award in recognition of her outstanding work in the community in 2011.

The award recognizes the player who best exemplifies the characteristics of a leader in the community and reflects Staley's leadership, spirit, charitable efforts, and love for the game.

"It's an award that we in the league take very seriously," WNBA president Laurel Richie said.

Richie presented the award to Charles.

The Dawn Staley Community Leadership Award is presented annually. Each WNBA team nominated one player and a designated committee selected Charles as the winner. The WNBA will make a $10,000 donation to the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America on behalf of Charles.

m.dimauro@theday.com

Connecticut's Kara Lawson, right, heaves the ball toward the basket as she is fouled by Los Angeles' Candace Parker while driving to the basket during Wednesday's WNBA game at Mohegan Sun Arena. The Sparks beat the Sun 87-81.
Connecticut's Kara Lawson, right, heaves the ball toward the basket as she is fouled by Los Angeles' Candace Parker while driving to the basket during Wednesday's WNBA game at Mohegan Sun Arena. The Sparks beat the Sun 87-81. Sean D. Elliot/The Day Buy Photo
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