all scores

Sabrina Ionescu dedicates late 3s to ‘the refs’ after controversial non-call

Sabrina Ionescu scored 29 points in the Liberty's first postseason game. (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

Sabrina Ionescu finds motivation wherever she can get it.

In the second half of the New York Liberty’s game Friday against the Washington Mystics, for instance, Ionescu took issue with what she believed was a non-call by the referees. Ionescu believed the Mystics should have been called for a shooting foul at one point of the opening game of the team’s first-round playoff series.

The call never came, however, and Ionescu drained back-to-back 3-pointers, adding to what turned into a game-high 29-point performance in New York’s 90-75 win over the Mystics.

“I don’t want to get fined, but let me say,” Ionescu told reporters after the game. “Some of those 3s were for the refs, with all due respect.”

Ionescu, a two-time WNBA All-Star, was second on the Liberty during the regular season with 17 points per game, shooting 42.3 percent from the floor and 44.8 from long-range. She set a single-season league record with 128 made 3-pointers.

A former mentee of the late Kobe Bryant, Ionescu is never afraid to wear her art on her heart on her sleeve.

That was clear against the Mystics on Friday, when she made seven 3-pointers – a franchise playoff record. After swishing a long ball with just under seven minutes remaining to give the Liberty a 12-point lead, she waved her arms above her head, egging on a bombastic Barclays Center crowd.

The Liberty’s success has Ionescu convinced they are the top team in New York City, women’s or men’s.

“We’re going to let our work do the talking,” Ionescu said. “We’ll be able to shut up those people on Twitter that have anything to say [about] what’s going on with New York sports.

“We’ve been playing the best basketball that’s been played in New York City for a very long time. Whether people recognize it or not, they will in the next few weeks. I’m excited to see what they say then.”