Ionescu leads Liberty back from the break
New York hosts Dallas at Barclays after All-Star extravaganza
Sabrina Ionescu couldn’t quite defend her Skills Challenge title in Las Vegas last weekend.
So the second-time All-Star shot the lights out in Sin City instead.
Ionescu won the WNBA’s 3-Point Shootout during All-Star weekend at Las Vegas’ Michelob ULTRA Arena, helping Team Stewart to a 143-127 victory over Team Wilson Saturday after making history by drilling 25 of 27 shots from beyond the arc Friday night.
“Shouldn’t have missed two,” Ionescu jabbed after scoring a record-setting 37 of a possible 40 points in the shooting contest. “It was the final round. I had just lost in the skills. I wasn’t going to lose again.”
Ionescu put up the highest score in any WNBA or NBA 3-Point Shootout, drilling 20 consecutive shots at one point.
“I knew they were going in,” she said. “I was telling my agents over there, I didn’t even wait for the ball to get through the net.
“As soon as I shot it, it looked good and I just went down and kept grabbing (basketballs) and was listening to the fans as they were cheering, knowing that they went in. So they were my validation.”
The eye-popping performance drew praise and awe from former WNBA 3-point, record-holder Allie Quigley, who held the previous mark of 30 points.
“UNBELIEVABLE!!! This record won’t ever be broken,” Quigley tweeted.
Stephen Curry, the NBA’s all-time leader in 3-pointers made, was just as impressed.
“RIDICULOUS!” tweeted Curry, who held the NBA mark of 31 points from his All-Star 3-point shootout championship in 2021.
Ionescu also helped teammate and All-Star captain Breanna Stewart with 18 points, eight assists and six rebounds.
Stewart added nine points, nine rebounds and six assists and Courtney Vandersloot, who teamed with Ionescu in the Skills Challenge, added two points and an assist.
Now that the All-Star festivities are behind them, the Eastern Conference-leading Liberty (14-4) will return to Barclays Center Wednesday for a 1 p.m. matinee showdown with Dallas.
New York has won a season high-tying four in a row, including last Wednesday’s 95-87 overtime triumph at Indiana.
Ionescu put up eight of her game-high 34 points during the extra session, knocking down two of her seven 3-pointers in crunch time.
The two-time Wooden Award winner as the best collegiate player in the nation is averaging 16.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game thus far this season.
Stewart, the front-runner for WNBA MVP honors, leads New York with 23.1 points and 9.8 rebounds per contest, having already captured three Eastern Conference Player of the Week awards as well as a Player of the Month honor.
Dallas (11-9), which suffered a 109-103 loss here on June 11 in the only previous meeting between the clubs this year, will be looking for its fourth straight win.
The Wings are coming off last Wednesday’s 107-67 rout at Minnesota.
Former Liberty forward Natasha Howard led Dallas with 28 points and 14 rebounds as the Wings remained 7 1/2 games behind Western Conference- and WNBA-leading Las Vegas (19-2).
Having won 14 of its first 18 contests, New York is still a team finding its way, according to Ionescu.
“We’re just continuing to learn how to play well with one another,” she said. “It’s a big factor into why some of our games end up the way they do. But we understand it’s happened one too many times, and we have to look inward and continue to build that chemistry. I think we will.”
GIVE ME LIBERTY: After hosting Dallas on Wednesday, the Liberty will embark on a trip to our nation’s capital on Friday to take on the Washington Mystics. … Ionescu hit five more 3-pointers during the All-Star Game. … New York will be back in Brooklyn on Sunday, hosting Indiana in the opener of a season-high four-game homestand.
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