The 2021 WNBA season got underway on Friday night, and you couldn't have scripted a better start. In the first game on opening night, Sabrina Ionescu hit a last-second 3-pointer to give the New York Liberty a thrilling 90-87 win over the Indiana Fever.
After Kelsey Mitchell traveled with just five seconds to play, the Liberty got the ball and a chance to win on the final possession. Ionescu didn't waste it. She inbounded the ball to Kylee Shook, cut towards the baseline and then turned back to come off a screen and get the handoff from Shook. Without even bothering to dribble, she turned and fired a deep 3 that caught nothing but net.
"I wanted it," Ionescu said. "I haven't played in a while. I wanted it for our team. We grinded out a huge win here. Just so happy to have fans, family in attendance. Just the beginning for us."
The No.1 overall pick in the 2020 WNBA Draft, Ionescu was limited to three games in her rookie season due to an ankle injury. Without her, the team struggled to a franchise-worst 2-20 record, and missed the playoffs for the third straight season. But with her return and some key offseason acquisitions, the Liberty believe they have a bright future. Moments like this from Ionescu are exactly why.
While she didn't have the best start shooting wise, Ionescu stepped up when it mattered most. Including the game-winner, she scored the final eight points for the Liberty in the span of 39 seconds. After they had let an 11-point lead slip away, Ionescu's heroics made sure their early work wasn't for nought.
"I'm just excited to get back to playing and doing what I love," Ionescu said. "My team supported me, my coaching staff, the entire organization. This is what I love doing. The highs, the lows, everything through it just really pays off."
Ionescu finished the night with 25 points, six rebounds, 11 assists and just two turnovers in 37 minutes of play. Not bad for just her fourth career WNBA game.