Skip to main content


Ionescu, Laney help Liberty beat Sun in Game 2 to even semifinal series

Sabrina Ionescu and Sandy Brondello Sabrina Ionescu and Sandy Brondello - The Canadian Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Sabrina Ionescu scored 21 points and Betnijah Laney added 20 to help the New York Liberty beat the Connecticut Sun 84-77 on Tuesday night, evening the best-of-five series at 1-1.

Game 3 is Friday night in Connecticut.

New York led 59-57 to start the fourth quarter before the team went on a 13-5 run to start the period. Breanna Stewart, who was having a rough offensive night hours after she was honored as the WNBA's MVP, hit her first 3-pointer of the series to cap the spurt and give the Liberty a 72-62 advantage. Stewart had missed her first 11 3s in the opening two games.

Connecticut was able to get within striking distance a few times after that, but Laney answered with key 3-pointers. Her second one made it 80-70 with 2:55 left. Laney was coming off a rough Game 1 where she had just three points.

The Sun scored five straight to make one final push, trailing 80-75 with 1:43 left before Ionescu hit two free throws and then got a steal on the next possession to seal the win.

Tiffany Hayes scored 30 points and DeWanna Bonner added 19 to lead Connecticut.

The Liberty, who scored a season-low 63 points in Game 1, trailed by four at the half before getting going in the third quarter. They were down 47-45 before scoring 11 straight, including Stewart's first basket of the game. New York was up 59-50 with 4:14 left in the third before going scoreless the rest of the period as the Sun cut their deficit to 59-57.

Before the game, Stewart was awarded the league's MVP trophy by WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert much to the delight of the sellout crowd that included Grammy award winner Alicia Keys. Stewart edged Connecticut's Alyssa Thomas and Las Vegas' A'ja Wilson in one of the closest races ever for the award. The entire Liberty team wore MVP Stewart shirts in warmups.

The Liberty were up 14-7 before Connecticut closed the first quarter on 15-2 run to take 22-16 advantage. Hayes had 12 points in the opening 10 minutes. The Sun continued that spurt extended the lead to 30-18 before the Liberty scored seven straight during a 10-4 run to get in the game.

Stewart scored her first points of the game on two free throws in that burst. New York closed to within 37-36 on Ionescu's transition 3-pointer with under a minute to go in the half, the Liberty's first fastbreak points in the series.

The Sun led 42-38 at the half behind Hayes' 17 points and 11 from Bonner.