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Sabrina Ionescu scores 25 points as Liberty stun Sun in opener

(Steven Freeman/NBAE via Getty Images)

The New York Liberty took down the Connecticut Sun 81-79 on Saturday, powered by the return of a fully healthy Sabrina Ionescu.

Ionescu scored 25 points while adding six assists and four rebounds. It was her fourth career game with at least 25 points and five assists, the third-most in team history.

Ionescu finally took to the court feeling fully recovered from an ankle injury she suffered three games into her rookie season. The injury lingered through the 2021 season.

“I was just really excited to be able to play,” Ionescu said. “An injury gives you an entire different perspective of the game. Just super blessed to be able to get out of a super-dark time physically and mentally and come out into the light. It’s a cool story.”

Foul trouble plagued both teams as both Dijonai Carrington and Jasmine Thomas fouled out for the Sun. The Liberty had six players acquire four fouls apiece. Jocelyn Willoughby was the only player on the court to score points and not manage four fouls for the Liberty.

In total, New York amassed 25 fouls while Connecticut had 19.

New York’s Natasha Howard had 16 points, while Sami Whitcomb added 15 points and five assists.

Also getting into double-digits for the Liberty was Willoughby with 13 points. Willoughby missed last season after suffering a torn Achilles tendon during preseason.

The Liberty were without Betnijah Laney, Didi Richards and Bec Allen, but coach Sandy Brondello was happy with her team’s performance in her debut.

“We weren’t quite sure what we would get on the offensive end. I knew what we’d get on the defensive end. I think this team is tough, and I think you see the style of play that we wanted to play,” Brondello said. “We competed with one of the best teams in the WNBA. We’re both missing players, obviously, we had to dig deep.

“For me, it’s always nice to win your first game, and the fans can get to see what we’re trying to do here… a bit of relief, I suppose.”

For the Sun, Alyssa Thomas had 25 points and seven rebounds. Reigning WNBA MVP Jonquel Jones had 15 points and seven rebounds. Carrington, Thomas and Brionna Jones all scored in double-digits in the loss.