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Liberty Hold On To Beat Sparks In WNBA Celebratory Matchup

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Rebecca Allen scored a season-high 19 points, Sami Whitcomb added 17 and the New York Liberty held on for a 76-73 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks on Sunday in what was billed as “The ’97 Game” by the WNBA.

The league, which is celebrating its 25th season this year, held the matchup nearly 24 years to the day of the first game, which was also won by the Liberty on June 21, 1997, at the Great Western Forum.

“Just to think about the history of this league and where it is only 25 years into its existence it’s amazing,” Sparks coach and GM Derek Fisher said. “I think the league office is working really hard to grow the game on the global stage. And, you know, we just have to keep doing the work.”

New York had a 14-point lead midway through the third quarter, but saw Los Angeles go on a 21-7 run to tie it at 58 going into the final 10 minutes. Allen had two blocked shots in the final minute, including one on a potential go-ahead 3-pointer by Kristi Tolliver with 8.2 seconds remaining. Allen made a pair of free throws after a loose ball foul by Tolliver to give the Liberty a three-point advantage.

Los Angeles had a chance to send it into overtime, but Nia Coffey missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

The Liberty won despite committing a WNBA season-high 30 turnovers but scored 19 points of offensive rebounds.

Erica Wheeler had 20 points and 10 assists for the Sparks while Coffey and Tolliver scored 15 apiece.

The game was played at the Los Angeles Convention Center. The Sparks are playing at the Convention Center instead of their usual home at Staples Center until after the Olympic break after the arena was reserved for playoff runs by both the Lakers and Clippers.