WNBA: Ionescu's first WNBA triple-double, Storm handed first loss of the season

Ionescu had 26 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds to help New York beat the Minnesota Lynx 86-75 on Tuesday night, giving the Liberty its first 3-0 start in 14 years.

Ionescu has now had a game-winning buzzer beater in her first home game Friday and a triple-double in her second game at Barclays Center to help the Liberty to its best start since 2007, when the side won its first five games.   -  AFP

Sabrina Ionescu has already left her mark in this young season, becoming the fastest player in WNBA history to record a triple-double.

Ionescu had 26 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds to help New York beat the Minnesota Lynx 86-75 on Tuesday night, giving the Liberty its first 3-0 start in 14 years.

“Obviously getting a triple-double in a win is important," said Ionescu, who had an NCAA record 26 triple-doubles in college and now has her first pro one in just her sixth career game. “Super proud of my teammates, my coaching staff for helping me get that. ... I’m super grateful. It’s definitely pretty cool (getting the first one in franchise history).”

 

The No. 1 pick in the 2020 draft had the 10th triple-double in league history and first since Chelsea Gray did it in 2019. The Liberty’s young star did it in her second season — the earliest in a career that it had ever been done. Sheryl Swoopes, who had the league’s first triple-double, accomplished the feat in her 59th career game — the previous fastest mark.

Liberty coach Walt Hopkins wasn't surprised by his young star's success.

“She puts the work in for these moments. Does the work in the offseason, so she's prepared now. She's got a special mentality in her belief in herself, her teammates and her desire to win,” Hopkins said. "It's matched by her teammates. We're getting off to this hot start because they all have that mindset of being hungry."

Ionescu has now had a game-winning buzzer beater in her first home game Friday and a triple-double in her second game at Barclays Center to help the Liberty to its best start since 2007, when the side won its first five games.

“The 3-0 start is a big deal for one, there have been some really great Liberty teams throughout history,” Hopkins said. “That’s pretty special to get out to this. This team getting to see what they are capable of early is a big deal for us. ”

New York trailed 45-43 at the half before outscoring Minnesota 19-10 in the third quarter to go up 62-55 heading to the final period.

RELATED | WNBA: DeWanna Bonner helps Sun beat Mercury, Liberty does the double on Fever

The Liberty expanded on that lead and Ionescu reached the triple-double, corralling her 10th rebound with 5:24 left in the fourth. She then nailed a 3-pointer at the other end to extend the advantage to 75-65. Minnesota couldn't get closer the rest of the way.

Sylvia Fowles led the Lynx (0-2) with 26 points and 11 rebounds. Kayla McBride scored 16 points and Jessica Shepard had 12.

“We’re still trying to figure out who we are,” Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said. “Syl was really good for us. Knew she’d have opportunities on the inside.”

Lynx is 0-2 for the first time in Reeve's 11 years in Minnesota.

The Liberty welcomed back Kiah Stokes, who was playing her first game with New York after completing her overseas season. She checked in midway through the first quarter receiving a nice hand from the crowd.

Both teams were missing key players because of COVID-19 protocols. New York's Natasha Howard and Minnesota's Napheesa Collier finished their overseas seasons and needed a few more negative coronavirus tests to rejoin their teams. They both are expected to be back later this week.

Minnesota was without Natalie Achonwa because of a knee injury. The Lynx were also missing rookie Rennia Davis, who has a stress fracture in her left foot.

BIG POINTS

Tuesday night's game marked the return to New York for Lynx assistant coach Katie Smith, who was the Liberty's head coach before getting let go after the 2019 season. ... The first quarter was full of runs as New York scored 15 straight after trailing 4-0, and then Minnesota had 12 in a row to make it a two-point game after one period. Neither team had more than a five-point lead before the half. ... Minnesota was just 3-for-23 from behind the 3-point arc.


READ | WNBA roundup: Storm receives Championship rings; Stewart, Parker shine

Las Vegas deals defending champion Seattle 1st loss 96-80

Jackie Young had 21 points and 10 rebounds, A’ja Wilson added 18 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and three blocks, and the Las Vegas Aces held off the defending champion Seattle Storm 96-80 on Tuesday night to avenge a season-opening loss.

Las Vegas led by as many as 21 points in the first half before Seattle opened the second half on a 13-6 run, with nine points from Jewell Loyd, to get within 51-44. Seattle newcomer Katie Lou Samuelson beat the third-quarter buzzer with a shot near midcourt to pull the Storm to 66-62.

But the Aces started strong in the fourth as Liz Cambage converted a three-point play to cap an 8-0 run, extending the lead to 74-62.

Cambage finished with 18 points and eight rebounds, and Chelsea Gray had 11 points and seven assists for Las Vegas (1-1). Kelsey Plum scored 10 points off the bench.

Las Vegas closed the first quarter on a 15-0 run for a 31-14 lead after Seattle went scoreless for four-plus minutes. The Aces led 45-31 at the break behind 10 points apiece from Wilson and Young. Seattle was just 14 of 39 from the field (36.8%),th eight turnovers.

Breanna Stewart had 26 points and 11 rebounds for Seattle (1-1). Loyd finished with 17 points and Ezi Magbegor had 14 points and 13 rebounds.

Loyd and Stewart combined to score 24 points in the third quarter, while Las Vegas was held to 21 points. The Aces turned it over just five times in the first half, but had four in four minutes to start the third.

Last Saturday, Stewart had 28 points and 13 rebounds and Loyd added 22 points as the Storm beat the Aces 97-83 in a repeat of the WNBA finals.

Griner gets 43rd career double-double, Phoenix tops Mystics

Diana Taurasi scored 17 points, Brittney Griner had 14 points and 10 rebounds for a franchise-record 43rd career double-double, and the Phoenix Mercury beat the Washington Mystics 91-70 on Tuesday night.

Brianna Turner also had a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds for Phoenix (2-1). Kia Nurse added 12 points, and Skylar Diggins-Smith had 10 points and five assists as every Mercury starter scored in double figures.

 

Phoenix made five of its 11 3-pointers in the first quarter to build a 21-18 lead. The Mercury finished 11 of 28 from long distance while Washington was 5 of 28.

Tina Charles led Washington (0-2) with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Charles scored 10 points in the first quarter to move into ninth place on the WNBA career list — becoming the 11th player in league history to reach 6,000 points.

Natasha Cloud added 18 points and Ariel Atkins scored 12 for the Mystics, who are awaiting the return of Elena Delle Donne after offseason back surgery..

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :