Sparks 72, Liberty 64
LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Sparks' hopes for an undefeated season were almost dashed in their first game.
But Lisa Leslie, scoreless for nearly 27 minutes, made five of her first six second-half shots and finished with 14 points to rally the Sparks over the New York Liberty in the WNBA season opener.
Leslie, who took advantage of Tari Phillips' foul trouble, also had 14 rebounds, seven blocked shots and five assists to lead the defending champions.
Often doubled-team in the first half, Leslie missed all four shots she attempted and did not take a free throw as the Liberty took a 31-30 lead.
The Sparks went ahead for good when Mwadi Mabika made three of four free throws and a layup during a 6-0 run, putting them ahead 38-34.
Leslie still hadn't made a shot when Phillips had to sit after picking up her fifth foul with 13:15 to play and Los Angeles leading 45-40. Leslie made a layup eight seconds later, and followed with the Sparks' next six points as they took a 53-49 lead with 9:23 remaining.
The Sparks took their biggest lead at 65-51 with 4:26 remaining as former Liberty guard Sophia Witherspoon scored five points during a 9-2 run.
Phillips and Tamika Whitmore each had four points as New York scored eight unanswered points to cut the deficit to 67-61 with 31 seconds to play, but Nikki Teasley made 5-of-6 free throws 31 seconds to seal it.
Witherspoon and Mabika each scored 14 points for the Sparks. Vickie Johnson led the Liberty with 19 points. Whitmore added 14 and Phillips had 13 for New York.
Starzz 79, Lynx 75, OT
MINNEAPOLIS -- Adrienne Goodson scored 20 points, including the go-ahead basket in overtime, in the opener for both teams.
The Lynx, with WNBA All-Star Katie Smith sidelined by an injured right index finger, had chances to tie or take the lead after Goodson's layup with 44.3 seconds remaining.
But Svetlana Abrosimova and Betty Lennox missed 3-pointers, and Michele Van Gorp -- whose two free throws with 14.5 seconds to go in regulation forced overtime -- was called for an over-the-back foul.
Jennifer Azzi hit the second of two free throws to make it 78-75 with 14.3 seconds remaining. Lennox missed a 3-pointer, and Marie Ferdinand hit a free throw to seal the victory.
Margo Dydek and Azzi each had 14 points, and Ferdinand had 12 for Utah, which overcame a poor shooting night from leading scorer Natalie Williams, who finished with nine points.
Abrosimova scored 19 of her 26 points in the second half for the Lynx. Lennox, who missed 21 games last season with a strained left hip capsule, scored 13 points in her first regular season game since undergoing surgery in November.