With the seconds winding down in the first half, the Minnesota Lynx could have held for the final shot, but Aerial Powers rushed, or perhaps lost track of time. Either way, her ill-advised pull-up jumper clanged off the rim, giving the New York Liberty an extra chance.
Sabrina Ionescu took advantage, securing the rebound and strolling up to halfcourt before launching a heave that went in off the glass to extend the Liberty's lead to eight at the break. The Liberty never looked back, pulling away in the second half for an 88-69 win. Though only their fourth victory on the season, it was their third in the last four games as they try to bounce back from a brutal start.
SABRINA "CLUTCH" IONESCU 😲 pic.twitter.com/7gxJeUWnDP— WNBA (@WNBA) June 8, 2022
Ionescu led the way, finishing with 26 points, eight rebounds and eight assists on 10 of 11 from the field in just 26 minutes. If she had played in the fourth quarter, she likely would have recorded the second triple-double of her career, which would have made her the fourth player ever to accomplish that feat. She'll have to settle instead for becoming the first player to ever put up at least 25 points and eight assists while shooting over 90 percent.
History aside, Ionescu was happy to get her team back in the win column.
"Just keep building," Ionescu said. "Watching a lot of film, continuing to see where I can improve. Not happy with how I played last game because we didn't win. Trying to figure out ways that I can continue to help this team and win games."
While she didn't get the triple-double, that should not diminish how special this performance was from Ionescu. She controlled the entire game, scoring or assisting on 48 of the team's 70 points while she was on the floor. Her decision-making was terrific -- she easily could have had double-digit assists, and turned it over just twice -- and her shot-making was exceptional.
In addition to the halfcourt shot at the end of the half, she drained a number of tough 3-pointers to bail the Liberty out at the end of the shot clock. At one point in the third quarter she hit one from the logo and broke out the Michael Jordan-esque shrug.
The logo three. The shrug. @sabrina_i20 is too cold. pic.twitter.com/AhHpmdeWZU— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) June 8, 2022
Over the last four games -- a stretch that's coincided with Crystal Dangerfield moving into the starting lineup, allowing Ionescu to move off the ball at times -- the former No. 1 overall pick is averaging 26 points, 5.5 rebounds and five assists on 59 percent shooting.
The Liberty still have plenty of room to improve, but with Ionescu playing at this level, there's a sense of excitement and hope surrounding the team that simply didn't exist early in the season.