Seattle Storm beats New York Liberty in WNBA season opener

The WNBA season-opener saw the Seattle Storm and New York Liberty players walk to their locker rooms during the U.S. national anthem played prior to the game in protest of racial inequality.

Breanna Stewart

Breanna Stewart starred with 18 points, eight rebounds and four steals as Seattle Storm beat New York Liberty 87-71 in the WNBA season-opener on Sunday.   -  AP Photo

Breanna Stewart had 18 points, eight rebounds and four steals in her first WNBA game since helping Seattle Storm win the 2018 championship, sending her side past the New York Liberty 87-71 on Sunday in the season opener for both teams.

The 2020 WNBA season, delayed and shortened by the coronavirus pandemic, will be played in a bubble at the IMG Academy in Florida. 

Members of both teams, in protest of racial inequality, walked to their respective locker rooms during the playing of the U.S. national anthem prior to the game. The WNBA players and other athletes from around the world are joining in anti-racism protests sparked by the high-profile deaths of Black Americans at the hands of police officers.

 

Stewart missed all of last season after tearing her Achilles tendon while playing for her Russian club team in April 2019.

Jewell Loyd scored 14 points and Sue Bird - who also missed the 2019 season because of a knee injury - added 11 points, hitting 3 of 5 from 3-point range, and five assists for Seattle.

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Sabrina Ionescu had 12 points, six rebounds and four assists in her WNBA debut. Ionescu, the No. 1 pick in April’s draft, was 4-of-17 shooting, including 0 of 8 from 3-point range, and committed four turnovers. Layshia Clarendon led the Liberty with 20 points.

Sabrina Ionescu

Sabrina Ionescu had 12 points, six rebounds and four assists in her WNBA debut.   -  AP Photo

 

- Sparks gets past Mercury, Mystics beats Fever -

Nneka Ogwumike scored 21 points and Seimone Augustus added 14 and the Los Angeles Sparks used a big third quarter to beat the Phoenix Mercury.

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Oguwmike and Augustus combined to make all 14 of their shots. Augustus was playing her first game with Los Angeles after signing as a free agent from Minnesota in the offseason. Chelsea Gray and Candace Parker had 13 points apiece, and Brittney Sykes and Te’a Cooper each scored 10.

Diana Taurasi, who missed most of last season with back and hamstring injuries, led Phoenix with 16 points, Skylar Diggins-Smith added 14 points and six assists.

Nneka Ogwumike

Nneka Ogwumike scored 21 points to power the Los Angeles Sparks past Phoenix Mercury.   -  AP Photo

 

Los Angeles outscored the Mercury 30-8 in the third quarter to take an 80-54 lead into the fourth.

Meanwhile, Myisha Hines-Allen scored a career-high 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as defending champion Washington Mystics beat Indiana Fever.

The Mystics is missing reigning MVP Elena Delle Donne, who is recovering from a back injury, and newly acquired center Tina Charles, who was medically excused for the season. Washington is also without Natasha Cloud, who is focusing on social justice causes this season, and LaToya Sanders.

 

The Mystics didn’t miss a beat against its former assistant coach Marianne Stanley, who took over the Fever this year. She was presented her championship ring before the game by the Mystics.

Aerial Powers and Emma Meesseman had 14 points apiece and Shey Peddy and Ariel Atkins each scored 10 for the Mystics.

Kelsey Mitchell hit five 3s and finished with 25 points for Indiana. Tiffany Mitchell scored 15 points and Candice Dupree 13.

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