- Sabina Ionescu hit the game winning three-pointer as the New York Liberty beat the Indiana Fever 90-87 on WNBA opening night.
- Ionescu finished with 25 points, six rebounds, and 11 assists in 37 minutes of action.
- The Liberty have the 9th best odds to win the WNBA title at +5000 at the BetOnline App.
The WNBA’s 2021 season got underway on Friday night and even the basketball gods couldn’t have scripted a better start.
The New York Liberty opened their season with a thrilling 90-87 victory over the Indiana Fever in a game where Sabrina Ionescu balled out after playing just three games last season with ankle injury. Ionescu took over in the final 39 seconds of the game and delivered the biggest shot of the evening.
Wearing Kobe Bryant’s Lakers jersey during the postgame interview, Ionescu said:
“I 100 percent had a vision of hitting a game winner. We were tied walking into the huddle and I was smiling. It was too good to be true. … I was ready for the moment.”
“I’m just excited to get back to playing and doing what I love. 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 Took Over
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) May 15, 2021
Ionescu finished the game with 25 points, six rebounds, and 11 assists with only two turnovers in 37 minutes of playing time. Her numbers are impressive considering it was only her fourth game in the pro ranks. She did however, struggle to shoot from the flor, going just 7-18 from the field. But Ionescu hit her shots when the Liberty need them most.
The former Oregon star scored the Liberty’s final eight points and took over down the stretch. New York was down 86-82 with only 39.7 seconds left in the game. Ionescu nailed a three-pointer from the wing and then made two free throws with 21.8 seconds left to tie the game at 87.
Indiana worked the clock on the next play but Kelsey Mitchell was whistled for a travelling violation with 5.8 second left to play. With the game on the lie, Ionescu got the ball near the wing and hit the game-winner with four-tenths of a second left to play in the game. The Fever couldn’t get a shot off and the Liberty won their first game of the season.
No. 1 Pick of 2020 WNBA Draft
— WNBA (@WNBA) April 17, 2020
Ionescu was the no. 1 overall pick of the 2020 WNBA Draft by the Liberty after finishing her collegiate career as the NCAA’s all-time leader in triple doubles and being the only NCAA Division I player to record 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, and 1 assists in her college career.
She exploded for 33 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists in only her second WNBA game but in her next game, she injured her left ankle in the second quarter of their game against the Atlanta Dream. She was diagnosed with a Grade 3 spain and was expected to miss a month but ended up missing the remainder of the season.
Without her, the Liberty finished with a franchise-worst 2-20 record and missed the WNBA playoffs for the third consecutive season. The best WNBA betting sites aren’t too high on New York this season with the BetOnline App listing them with the 9th best odds to win the championship at +5000. However, with the return of Ionescu and some key offseason additions, the Liberty might pull off some surprises.
Shane grew up watching the Magic & Bird rivalry but ended up rooting for Detroit’s Bad Boys team in the 1990s NBA. He loves to tell sports stories and has been writing about sports since high school. When Shane isn’t busy jotting down his thoughts, he’s just chillin’ at home with his wife Rocelle and their two dogs named Horry and Fisher. He recently added a new family member, adopting a handsome retired K-9 named Ranger.