Liberty, Ionescu
Photo by Tony Maddox

Superstar Sabrina Ionescu’s Impressive Second Half Propels Liberty past the Wings

The New York Liberty (6-2) continue to find ways to stun their hometown crowd with their spurts of pure electric play. Another nearly sold-out arena at the Barclays Center presented the atmosphere the Liberty needed to overcome what appeared to be another unsurmountable comeback at home. Not to mention, the history surrounding this game was plentiful. There was a ton of nostalgia around former Liberty Center Natasha Howard's return back to the Barclays since being traded along with a reunion for former teammates at Oregon University in  Dallas Wings (5-2) point guard Satou Sybally and Liberty star Sabrina Ionescu. 

Sunday was also the day of WNBA legends Sue Bird and Sylvia Fowles jersey retirements. Even with all the emotion, the Liberty was able to bring more enjoyment and excitement by securing the victory, 102-93.  They eclipsed 100 points in consecutive games for the first time in franchise history.


Biggest Takeaways from the New York Liberty

During the first half, the Liberty struggled to protect the paint as they gave up 30 points. Dallas rebounded really well and played more physically inside the paint. The Liberty were effective offensively in the first half, however they couldn’t build any momentum. The inability to stop Dallas from scoring allowed the Wings to take firm control of the game in the first half. They were also outrebounded 24 to 17, which allowed second-chance opportunities for this explosive and dynamic Wings team.

We just tweaked some of our defensive coverages in the second half,” head coach Sandy Brondello said. “Sometimes it’s just a little bit of focus, a little bit of togetherness, a little bit of toughness, and we showed that in the third quarter. And that’s great to have. Getting down, we have to be able to grind games out.”

Another glaring concern for the Liberty was the fact Ionescu struggled early. Heading into halftime down by six, 51-45, Ionsecu recorded three points and shot 1-6 from the floor, but the Liberty made a statement in the second half.

During the second half, the third quarter for the Liberty was the determining quarter that helped secure the win. Ionescu led the way in the third quarter as she recorded 13 points in the quarter and allowing her teammates to feed off of her. It appeared as Ionsecu began scoring and opening the floor, it allowed others to score more effectively and play team basketball. Going forward, this may be the formula the Liberty looks to take on against opposing teams.

“For us, that third quarter is probably the closest we’re gonna get to our best basketball and we understand the adjustments we made and how we played defensively and offensively,” Ionescu said. “That’s something that we’re going to take moving forward.”

Naturally, this momentum carried over to the final quarter of the game and the Liberty began to pull away. The crowd fed into the momentum combined with them hitting on all cylinders felt like a surreal moment and a long time coming. 

New York Liberty Finally Piecing it Together

Early in the season, the Liberty appeared to be inconsistent while playing together. They have yet to put together a good four quarters of dominant basketball, however this second half was a step in the right direction. The Liberty are fortunate to have star players like forward Breanna Stewart who can score within the offense or in an isolation situation. She became the seventh player ever to reach 30 points without attempting any free throws. During the press conference, she alluded to her not being the happiest about the calls not getting called. 

“As this group has come together, we’re having an awareness of where one another is, the spots,” Stewart said. “People are helping me get to the right positions, and today the shots went in.”

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