The New York Liberty survived a valiant effort from the Seattle Storm on Tuesday night, defeating them 86-82 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The victory improved the Liberty to 17-5, keeping them tied with the Connecticut Sun for the WNBA’s second overall seed.
The Liberty and Sun, which lead the Eastern Conference, trail the No. 1 seed Las Vegas Aces of the Western Conference. The Aces have won six in a row and are 22-2 following their 107-95 win against the Chicago Sky on Tuesday. The 18-6 Sun took down the Dallas Wings on Tuesday 88-83.
The Liberty are 3-0 versus the Storm this season after guard Sabrina Ionescu had a dominant triple double of 12 points,12 rebounds, and 12 assists to lead New York back from an 18-point second-half deficit. They were behind 55-37 with 5:55 left in the third quarter. Afterwards, Ionescu noted she doesn’t have to put up high scoring numbers to help her team.
“Just continuing to find my teammates. You know, the ball is not always going to go in but there are so many ways to impact the game,” said the All-Star on an evening which she shot just 2-14. “We have so many pieces that contributed [and were] huge tonight.
The Storm’s Jewell Loyd put her stamp on the game early, shooting a scorching 5-8 from 3-point range on her way to 22 first half points, finishing with a game-high 32. Forward Breanna Stewart, one of the top candidates for the league MVP this season, and the Liberty’s leading scorer at 22.7 points per game, like Ionescu struggled in the first half against Seattle’s perimeter defense. The Storm had added size with the return to the lineup of forward Gabby Williams from an injury.
Stewart led six Liberty players that scored in double figures, including all five starters. She had 22 points while forward Betnijah Laney added 19. Storm center Ezi Magbegor proved to be a handful for the Liberty, contributing 22 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocked shots.
On July 19, the Liberty featured Camp Day in a 98-88 matinee win over the Dallas Wings. The arena was filled with cheering children in colorful camp tee-shirts.
“A lot of them don’t care what the score is but they watch how you react to losing, to winning, and that’s really important,” said Ionescu. “ If we can leave a good impression on one kid we’ve done our job.”
The Liberty will host the Atlanta Dream at home tonight and face the Minnesota Lynx at the Barclays tomorrow before two games against the Sparks in Los Angeles on Sunday and next Tuesday.