By DOUG FEINBERG, AP Basketball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Sabrina Ionescu scored eight of her 20 points in the 2:18 final and the Liberty rallied from a 15-point third-quarter deficit to beat the Los Angeles Sparks 64-61 on Wednesday night.
The Liberty (13-18) picked up two wins over the Sparks (12-19) in the space of 24 hours, sweeping the straight set. New York had a much tougher time than their 102-73 win the night before to stay in the hunt for the playoffs.
Heading into Wednesday night’s games, one game separated seventh through 11th in the standings. With the win, New York moved into a tie with Phoenix for seventh place.
Trailing 50-35 with 5:23 left in the third quarter, New York held Los Angeles scoreless for the remainder of the period to cut its deficit to five.
Los Angeles finally ended its nearly 7-minute scoreless drought and regained a 55-47 lead before New York scored 13 of the next 17 points to take its first lead of the game on two free throws from Ionescu with 1:14 to go. .
After a miss from Los Angeles, Ionescu was fouled shooting a 3-pointer with 34.1 seconds left. She made two of three to give the Liberty a 62-59 advantage.
Jordin Canada was fouled driving to the basket and made both free throws to bring the Sparks to within one with 29.6 remaining.
After a timeout, Ionescu worked the clock before heading into the lane and taking a shot from the free-throw line with 6.9 seconds left.
Los Angeles had one last chance but Lexie Brown missed a 3-pointer from the wing just before the buzzer.
Nneka Ogwumike scored 19 points to lead Los Angeles.
The Sparks took a 24-8 lead after the first quarter as Ogwumike scored seven points. She passed Swin Cash for 20th place on the league’s all-time goalscoring list. Ogwumike now has 5,137 career points.
New York rallied to within seven points late in the first half before Los Angeles scored the final four points to take an 11-point lead at the break.
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