Sabrina Ionescu broke the single-season three-point record to help New York Liberty beat the Los Angeles Sparks 96-89 on Thursday night, giving the Liberty eight straight wins.
The 25-year-old, who topped Diana Taurasi’s single-season three-point mark and now has 124 this year, was quick to commemorate her role model.
“It’s an honour, any time you’re able to pass arguably the greatest basketball player that ever played in the WNBA,” she said.
Liberty coach Sandy Brandello echoed that sentiment, stating: “That’s a great accomplishment. Diana is one of the greatest of all-time, and Sabrina’s like Diana. She’s worked at that, she’s a much better shooter than she was last year.”
The win puts New York (32-7) a half-game behind Las Vegas for the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, while defeat for the Sparks (16-23) spells trouble; they sit a half-game behind Chicago for the final playoff spot, and need to get on their bike.
Unfortunately for them, the Liberty’s star guard, having missed all eight of her shots in the first half, including six three-pointers, had a monstrous second half.
She made a three with 9:12 left in the third quarter to tie Taurasi’s mark of 121, set in 2006. She then broke the 17-year old mark with a three that she banked in from the corner two minutes later.
Stefanie Dolson matched her speed and was also hot from behind the arc. When New York trailed by 13 midway through the third quarter, she got going. Dolson, who finished with 17 points, hit five three-pointers over a five-minute stretch as the Liberty took their first lead since the opening period.
The change in form came at a time where the Sparks were firing back, and had scored 12 straight, including the final nine of the opening period. They extended the lead to 14 in the second before Dolson and Breanna Stewart – who picked up 21 points in the opening 20 minutes – got New York back within 50-43 at the half.
Her fourth and fifth three-pointer sent the crowd into a frenzy and gave New York an 81-78 lead with 7:23 left in the game, starting a 17-4 run that put the game away.