Brooklyn Boro

Liberty look to burn Sun in Connecticut

New York shoots for fourth straight win in road trip opener

June 27, 2023 John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Fresh off a come-from-behind overtime victory over Washington at Downtown’s Barclays Center Sunday afternoon, the New York Liberty will open a three-game road trip Tuesday night in Connecticut.

“A win like this can help us tremendously,” MVP front-runner and Eastern Conference All-Star captain Breanna Stewart said after New York eclipsed a 17-point deficit en route to an 89-88 triumph over the Mystics.

“Last one before we go on the road for awhile,” she added.

Stewart, who finished with a team-high 18 points, converted a go-ahead three-point play with 19.1 seconds remaining in the extra session to give the Liberty (9-3) their fifth win in six games.

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None of her OT heroics would have been possible without Courtney Vandersloot’s driving layup with two ticks left on the clock in regulation. The future Hall of Fame point guard had 11 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

“It was a good locker-room win,” said Vandersloot.

Her backcourt mate, All-Star point guard Sabrina Ionescu, kept New York in the game after it was outscored 27-17 in the opening 10 minutes.

She finished with a game-high 31 points, drilling 7-of-12 3-pointers to fall one shy of her franchise record for shots made from beyond the arc in a single game.

“Weathering the storm in that first quarter. A lot of the time in the past this team has crumbled,” said Ionescu. “It says a lot about the chemistry (on this team).”

The WNBA’s “Superteam” has been especially hot of late, winning eight of its last 10 contests while averaging just over 90 points per game, including three 100-point efforts, the last of which came in Atlanta last Friday night when Betnijah Laney scored 19 points in a 110-80 triumph.

“Credit to these guys, they’re great,” said Liberty coach Sandy Brondello. “It shows the character of this team. They pulled one out (Sunday).”

Former Connecticut forward Jonquel Jones, who came to Brooklyn in a three-team swap with Dallas during general manager Jonathan Kolb’s impressive offseason haul, didn’t score a single point against D.C., but she did pull down a game-high 10 boards.

Jones had seven points in 16 minutes during her first encouter with her ex-teammates, an 81-65 win over the Eastern Conference-leading Sun (12-3) at Barclays Center on May 27.

New York coach Sandy Brondello will lead her team into Connecticut Tuesday night seeking a fourth consecutive win. Brandon Todd/New York Liberty

The 2021 WNBA MVP is averaging just under 10 points per game during her first season with New York, which is 1 1/2 games behind Connecticut entering Tuesday’s showdown.

The Sun have won four in a row and six of their last seven, including Sunday’s 96-72 rout of visiting Chicago.

Alyssa Thomas had her WNBA single-season record fourth triple-double of the campaign, finishing with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists for Connecticut, which has lost star center Brionna Jones for the season with a torn Achilles.

Off to the best 15-game start in franchise history, the Sun would like to avenge their early-season loss to the Liberty and drop them further down in the hunt for the top spot in the East.

After visiting the Sun, New York will head to Las Vegas on Thursday and re-visit Stewart’s former Seattle teammates Sunday evening.

Sabrina Ionescu was on fire Sunday, knocking down seven 3-pointers in the Liberty’s win over the Mystics at Barclays Center. Brandon Todd/New York Liberty

GIVE ME LIBERTY: The Liberty’s next home game is Wednesday, July 5 vs. Phoenix. … Laney had 17 points against Washington, including the 1,500th of her career. … New York had a season-high 45 rebounds vs. the Mystics. … The Liberty’s OT win Sunday was their first since July 1, 2018.

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