LOS ANGELES — Kristi Toliver suffered with every loss as the Sparks got off to their worst start in franchise history.
When she finally arrived in Los Angeles after playing for the Slovak Republic at the EuroBasket 2015 tournament in Hungary, she quickly made her presence felt.
And in her third game, she was unstoppable.
The seven-year pro out of Maryland broke Lisa Leslie's mark of 41 points when she made two free throws with 9 seconds left. Nneka Ogwumike added 19 points and 10 rebounds.
Tulsa's Riquna Williams put up a contested air ball with 1 second left as the Sparks won on consecutive nights after opening the season with seven straight losses. The Shock (8-4) have dropped three straight since losing All-Star point guard Skylar Diggins with a season-ending knee injury.
"I was watching every game," Toliver said. "I wanted to be as big a part as I could be. I knew just from watching ways that I could come and contribute immediately. ... I knew they were going to need my scoring on a night-in, night-out basis. I was doing my homework while I was (overseas) and trying to stay engaged. When I first got here the mentality was to be aggressive."
Toliver, who had a career high in her season debut last Sunday and 15 points on Thursday night when the Sparks finally broke through after seven losses, hit 15 of 24 shots, including 7 of 12 3-pointers, and made all six of her free throws. The Sparks went 11 of 21 behind the arc as the teams combined for 19 3-pointers. Toliver also matched her career high with nine assists.
"It's a very special feeling, it's a very special franchise and a very special feeling, and I'm just happy to be a part of it," she said.
Tulsa, coming off a 31-point loss in Phoenix on Thursday, used a 21-6 run and had five 3-pointers in the first quarter for a 23-14 lead. But the Sparks rallied to tie the game at 42 at the half.
In the third quarter, Toliver hit all four of her 3s and scored 19 points, surpassing 2,300 points for her career, and Los Angeles took a 73-68 lead.
"I was doing a lot less thinking and a lot more using my instincts," she said. "When in doubt, use basketball instincts. If the shot was there it was a shot, and if the pass was there it was a pass.
"I really just didn't want to force anything, just let the game come, and I was able to get in a rhythm in the third."
The Sparks were up seven when the Shock scored six straight before Toliver's 12-footer.
Williams had an offensive rebound basket with 26 seconds left to pull Tulsa within 96-95 before Toliver hit some clutch free throws.
Williams had 22 points and Karima Christmas added 20. Rookie Jordan Hooper had a career-high 14 points with four 3s, but with Toliver guarding her on the final possession she didn't get a touch.