The inaugural game of the WBNA’s 25th season did not disappoint.
The New York Liberty put on a show Friday night at the Barclays Center, narrowly defeating Indiana 90-87 in a fourth-quarter thriller.
Both teams started strong, but it was the Liberty who began draining threes early. New York was 6-for-8 from the three-point line in the first quarter.
Came out on FIRE 🔥 @nylibertyThey went 6-for-8 from 3 in first #CountIt pic.twitter.com/DYW6akUUa7— WNBA (@WNBA) May 14, 2021
Came out on FIRE 🔥 @nylibertyThey went 6-for-8 from 3 in first #CountIt pic.twitter.com/DYW6akUUa7
The opening half was a back and forth battle, with commanding individual performances on both sides of the ball.
Betnijah Laney led points at the half for the Liberty, dropping 20 in her debut start with New York.
In her @nyliberty debut, @BetnijahLaney put up 20 PTS in the first half alone 🔥 (7-11 FGM, 4-5 3PM)Catch the rest on @NBATV! pic.twitter.com/rTKUHP52sd— WNBA (@WNBA) May 15, 2021
In her @nyliberty debut, @BetnijahLaney put up 20 PTS in the first half alone 🔥 (7-11 FGM, 4-5 3PM)Catch the rest on @NBATV! pic.twitter.com/rTKUHP52sd
Teaira McCowan wasn’t far behind Laney, with 11 points and 7 rebounds at the half for the Fever.
In the third, Ionescu started to take off, stamping the first double-double of her WNBA career. Not to be outdone, McCowan put up a double-double going into the fourth quarter as well to keep things interesting.
The final quarter of play was an all-out offensive battle, with neither side giving up ground.
gotta respect it 🥶@Kelz_Hoop | #OurWayUnscripted pic.twitter.com/c57lLgWSIn— Indiana Fever ⛹️♀️🏀 (@IndianaFever) May 15, 2021
gotta respect it 🥶@Kelz_Hoop | #OurWayUnscripted pic.twitter.com/c57lLgWSIn
In the final minutes of the game, the Fever tested New York, going up 84-81 with just over a minute to play.
The Liberty were ultimately able to hold off Indiana, tying up the game 87-87 with under a minute on the clock.
Then, with less than a second left in the game, Ionescu hit a clutch three to win the game for the Liberty.
First game of the #WNBA season.Sabrina for the win.No doubt 💰 pic.twitter.com/NfuiAKn2UM— espnW (@espnW) May 15, 2021
First game of the #WNBA season.Sabrina for the win.No doubt 💰 pic.twitter.com/NfuiAKn2UM
Ionescu ended the night with 25 points, 6 rebounds and 11 assists. Laney led scoring for New York with 30 points.
Friday night’s game served as a triumphant return for Ionescu, who missed the majority of her rookie season last year with an ankle injury.
The Liberty and the Fever will face off again in Indiana on Sunday, May 16.