- Associated Press - Saturday, May 13, 2017

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.

The Storm announced before the game that Sue Bird and last season’s rookie of the year, Breanna Stewart, are still recovering from knee issues and are day-to-day.

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.

Jewell Loyd scored 25 points but committed nine of Seattle’s 24 turnovers.

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.

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 soreness in her right knee.

Monique Currie led the Stars with 23 points.

The game marked the head coaching debut of Vickie Johnson, who started her career in New York as a player when the WNBA debuted in 1997. She spent nine years in New York before going to San Antonio as a player. She then became an assistant coach for the Stars before being promoted before this season.

DREAM 81, SUN 74

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (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.

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