MINNEAPOLIS - Nneka Ogwumike has a bandage under her right eye to mask the stitches she took from an elbow in the paint. Sylvia Fowles' right eye is red and bloodshot from the battles being waged on the glass.
The WNBA Finals rematch between the Los Angeles Sparks and Minnesota Lynx has pushed both teams to their limits, and all that remains is one last game in this season.
Winner take all. Again.
"It wouldn't be the finals without a scratch here and there," Ogwumike said. "I enjoy it. It's a great opportunity to be on this main stage competing with the best. I'm not going to back down. You can't. It wouldn't be worth it."
For the second straight season, the Sparks and Lynx will need a deciding Game 5 to crown a champion. In the 12 games between the start of last year's finals and Game 5 of this series on Wednesday night in Minnesota, the cumulative score has been 908-908. Last year, the Sparks grabbed the organization's third title with a last-second put-back from Ogwumike to beat the Lynx at Target Center.
If the Sparks are going to be the WNBA's first repeat champion since 2002, they have to win one more game in Minnesota, this time at raucous Williams Arena.
"It challenges your mental more than your physical," Lynx guard Seimone Augustus said. "We all want to get to this point in our career where we're playing in a Game 5 and playing for a championship. This is what we always talk about. College, high school, pro, this is what we live for as athletes."
The Lynx were on the verge of elimination in Game 4 on Sunday, but responded by pounding the Sparks on the glass and winning 80-69 to send the series back to Minnesota. Fowles, the league MVP, went for 22 points and 14 rebounds to help the Lynx to a 48-28 rebounding advantage.
NASCAR champion owner, engine maker Yates dies at 74
CHARLOTTE - Robert Yates, a longtime NASCAR owner and engine builder, has died, his son said. He was 74.
Doug Yates, who runs the company he co-founded with his father, Roush Yates Engines, wrote on Twitter late Monday night: "My Dad and Hero, Robert Yates, has passed and is with the Lord."
Roush Yates also posted to its social media accounts that Yates died "surrounded by his family and loved ones."
No cause of death was given, but Yates had been battling liver cancer.
Yates started out in auto racing as an engine builder. He won 57 Cup races as an owner, including three Daytona 500s with drivers such as Davey Allison and Dale Jarrett.
Yates was selected for the NASCAR Hall of Fame in May. He was set for induction in January.