Sabrina Ionescu, Liberty looking to knock out Mystics
Sabrina Ionescu put on a big show in the New York Liberty's playoff opener.
Ionescu attempts to follow up with another strong outing and the second-seeded Liberty will look to wrap up the first-round series when they host the Washington Mystics on Tuesday night.
Ionescu was in top form in Game 1 as she scored 29 points and set a franchise postseason record with seven 3-pointers in New York's 90-75 victory on Friday.
"I was kind of just in that zone, locked in, the basket felt really big when I was shooting," Ionescu said afterward. "To be able to win this first game at home is huge just for this crowd and what they meant for us all season long.
"But also tonight, they were rowdy, they were electric, and continued to give us the motivation that we needed and we want to continue to play our best basketball when we're playing at home."
Ionescu, the top overall pick of the 2020 draft, set a WNBA record with 128 3-pointers in the regular season.
Her big game was needed with MVP candidate Breanna Stewart struggling and scoring just 10 points on 3-of-16 shooting.
"She led the damn league in threes this season," Washington's Brittney Sykes said of Ionescu. "I don't know why we just let her shoot the damn ball like that.
"It's always going to be frustrating when you know the solution to the problem and you just don't do it."
Jonquel Jones contributed 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Liberty.
The seventh-seeded Mystics will be attempting to force a winner-take-all Game 3 that they would host on Friday.
Washington isn't lacking for confidence as it split the four regular-season meetings with New York. And one of its two losses came by one point in overtime.
Myisha Hines-Allen scored 21 points in Game 1 but two-time MVP Elena Delle Donne had just 11 points and point guard Natasha Cloud had four on 1-of-8 shooting.
The Mystics were outrebounded 43-37 and New York held a 9-2 edge in blocked shots.
"Not to say we didn't want it, but they wanted it more and it showed," Sykes said. "It was as simple as that."
Sykes had 16 points on 7-of-18 shooting but missed all five of her 3-point attempts.
--Field Level Media
Updated September 18, 2023