SACRAMENTO -- Kara Lawson's big day started with a selection to the U.S. Olympic basketball team and finished with a big win for her and the Sacramento Monarchs.
Nicole Powell scored 24 points and Lawson had 10 of her 13 points in the third quarter for the Monarchs, who pulled away in the second half in dealing the Los Angeles Sparks a humbling 87-69 defeat.
Lawson can fire up a crowd with her energy, and she did it in the third quarter. Scoreless in the first half, Lawson had a breakaway layup and then made back-to-back 3-pointers, the final one at the buzzer.
After the shot, Lawson thumped her chest and had the crowd on its feet. The basket gave the Monarchs a 29-11 third quarter advantage and a 65-50 lead.
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"I felt like I needed to be aggressive in the second half and got some open 3-pointers," said Lawson, who had another 3-pointer early in the fourth. "That layup in transition got me going. It was a great day."
Sacramento matched its season-high point total and was strong at the defensive end. Bothered all game by the constant pressure and swarming Monarchs defense, the Sparks committed 27 turnovers.
"We got back to how we haven't been playing, scrapping, clawing, hustling," said Monarchs coach Jenny Boucek, whose team had lost three in a row. "It was probably our most complete 40 minutes. Our defense had a good rhythm. We had a lot of intensity."
The Monarchs slowed Los Angeles rookie Candace Parker, who had scored 71 points in her previous two games, including a career-high 40 in an overtime victory against Houston on Wednesday night. Parker had 14 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, but never found a good rhythm. Sidney Spencer also had 14 points for the Sparks.
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