NEW YORK (AP)Sabrina Ionescu has been on a roll offensively, and that has lifted the New York Liberty to wins in three of their last four games.
Ionescu had 26 points, eight rebounds and eight assists to help the Liberty rout the Minnesota Lynx 88-69 on Tuesday night.
”Some of the shots she made they were Diana Taurasi-like,” New York coach Sandy Brondello said. ”She has all the ability in the world and we have chemistry with each other. It took a little bit of time. … Happy for Sab, she puts in a lot of work to be a really good player.”
Ionescu has scored 20 or more points in four straight games for the first time in her young career.
”If I can be a threat offensively it opens up the floor for everyone else,” Ionescu said. ”I watched film and figured ways to attack the pick-and-roll. I’m seeing a lot of defenses and am trying to get everyone involved.”
The Liberty’s No. 1 draft pick in 2020 made 10 of her 11 field goal attempts and had 13 points, seven assists and six rebounds in the first half, including hitting a shot from half-court at the end of the second quarter to give New York (4-8) a 45-37 advantage at the break. That brought her college coach at Oregon, Kelly Graves, to his feet in the stands.
New York took control in the third quarter behind Ionescu, extending the lead to 67-45 with 3:30 left. After hitting another deep 3 from the logo – her fourth of the game on four attempts – she shrugged her shoulders.
”Sometimes I wonder, it doesn’t look that far when I shoot it,” Ionescu said. ”Feels good to get a win like this and propels us going into the next game.”
A few minutes before that, there was a brief stoppage in the third quarter during a timeout when protesters ran on the court in support of abortion rights. They were quickly taken off the floor by security, but given an ovation by the fans.
New York led 74-48 after three quarters and Minnesota (3-9) never threatened in the fourth. The teams also played on Sunday and the Lynx held on to win after nearly blowing a 17-point lead in the fourth quarter.
Ionescu sat out the fourth quarter, leaving her short of her second triple-double, which would tie the WNBA career record. The NCAA’s career leader in the stat had her only pro one against Minnesota last season.
”She wanted to come back in, but I didn’t want to risk it,” Brondello said. ”She was close to a triple-double. We have a lot of games coming up and she’s played a lot of minutes. It’s not worth it. I took the smart route.”
Han Xu added a career-high 15 points for the Liberty.
Kayla McBride scored 13 points to lead Minnesota.
New York was without Betnijah Laney (right knee), DiDi Richards (right hamstring) and Jocelyn Willoughby (left knee). Minnesota had injury issues of its own with Natalie Achonwa (right hamstring), Damiris Dantas (right foot) and Moriah Jefferson (left quad) all out. Napheesa Collier has missed the season after giving birth to a daughter last month.
The Liberty gave Lynx center Sylvia Fowles a gift bag before the game. Fowles announced before the season that she would retire at the end of the year. After the final buzzer the Liberty players lined up to hug Fowles.
Lynx: Head home to host Washington on Friday night.
Liberty: Visit Indiana on Friday.
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