Defending champion Sparks beat Storm 78-68 in opener

LOS ANGELES (AP) " Nneka Ogwumike scored 23 points, newcomer Odyssey Sims added 20 and the Los Angeles Sparks opened defense of their WNBA title with a 78-68 victory over the Seattle Storm on Saturday.

Both teams were missing key players Candace Parker, Essence Carson and Jantel Lavender are still competing in the Turkish league playoffs and were absent as the Sparks raised their third championship banner with Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant in attendance.

Ogwumike, last season's MVP, was 10 of 20 from the floor. Sims, acquired in a trade with Dallas after losing point guard Kristi Toliver to Washington, was 9 of 15 coming off the bench.

The Sparks led by one at halftime and took the lead for good on rookie Sydney Wiese's first WNBA field goal, a 3-pointer, for a 50-47 lead late in the third quarter.

The Storm was within three with five minutes left but Ogwumike made consecutive baskets for a 10-point lead with three minutes to go.

Jewell Loyd scored 25 points for Seattle.

LIBERTY 73, STARS 64

NEW YORK (AP) " Tina Charles scored 12 points and Epiphanny Prince had 11 to help New York beat short-handed San Antonio in the season opener for both teams.

Cierra Burdick added 10 points, and the Liberty played strong defense and slowly pulled away.

The Stars were missing top pick Kelsey Plum, who sprained her right ankle last week. She was still in a walking boot and the team is hopeful she'll be back soon. San Antonio also was missing Moriah Jefferson. The No. 2 pick in last season's draft was sidelined with right knee soreness.

Without their stellar young backcourt, Monique Currie picked up the scoring. She had 23 points to lead the Stars. Isabelle Harrison added 15.

DREAM 81, SUN 74

UNCASVILLE, Connecticut (AP) " Tiffany Hayes hit 11 of 12 free throws and finished with 19 points, including a late 3-pointer, and Atlanta held off Connecticut.

Bria Holmes added 15 points, Layshia Clarendon had 14, and Damiris Dantas 13 for Atlanta.

The Dream are without four-time WNBA All-Star Angel McCoughtry, who announced in January that she has, "decided to take some time off", during the 2017 WNBA season. McCoughtry, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 WNBA draft, has played year-round (in Europe and the WNBA) for eight straight years.

The Dream, who have won six in a row against Connecticut, set a WNBA record with 21 made free throws in the first half. They finished 25 of 27.

Morgan Tuck led Connecticut with a career-high 21 points. Jonquel Jones grabbed a career-best 20 boards, the most by a Sun player since Tina Charles had 22 on June 17, 2012.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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