In the New York Liberty’s 116-107 victory over Las Vegas on Wednesday, Sabrina Ionescu tied Candace Parker’s league-record of three triple-doubles with 31 points, the highest scoring triple-double in WNBA history. Ionescu also added 10 assists and 13 rebounds. In eight attempts, she made a career-high seven 3-pointers, shooting 10 of 13 from the field overall.
This season, the third-year professional has two triple-doubles. New York (9-12) finished with a season-high 35 assists and set a franchise record most points in a single game. Han Xu, a 6-foot-10 center in her second WNBA season, had a career-high 24 points for New York on 10-of-11 shooting, including 14 in the fourth quarter. She also tied a career high with eight rebounds. Adding 18 points was Natasha Howard.
For Las Vegas, A’ja Wilson had 29 points and 9 rebounds (15-7). Jackie Young made 8 of 11 shots for a total of 24 points.
The Aces has already taken a spot into the 2022 Commissioner’s Cup game which is against Chicago this month, July 26th. However, they missed an opportunity on Wednesday night to play in Las Vegas. The defending WNBA champions Sky can finish with home court advantage with a win over Indiana on Thursday.
A very special performance:
The New York Liberty defeated the Las Vegas Aces 116-107 on Wednesday, setting a franchise record for points as guard. Sabrina Ionescu recorded her second triple-double of the year. Ionescu tied with Candace Parker of the Chicago Sky for the most triple-doubles in a WNBA career with her 31 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists.
Ionescu broke the previous record of 29 points established by Los Angeles Sparks center Lisa Leslie in 2004 to become the first WNBA player to score at least 30 points in a triple-double game. Both teams’ offensive displays were masterful, as their 223 total points in regulation are a WNBA record.
The clubs’ aggregate total of 3-pointers made in a game (31), as well as New York’s 18 3-pointers and the Liberty’s 35 assists, both tied league records. Additionally, it was the most points the Aces had ever given up in a defeat since the team’s inception in Utah in 1997, the year the WNBA made its debut.
Although they have been a part of the original league since 1997, The Liberty have never ventured outside of New York. Ionescu was selected first overall in 2020 after setting an NCAA record at Oregon with 26 triple-doubles.
Ionescu made history on Wednesday by finishing with a triple-double without committing a turnover. The WNBA has never had more than five triple-doubles in a single season. This year’s total includes two from Ionescu, two from Parker, and one from Moriah Jefferson of the Minnesota Lynx.
Only one NBA player in the previous 40 years, Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets, has achieved Ionescu’s feat of scoring at least 30 points in a triple-double, committing no turnovers, and shooting at least 75% from the field.
“I was just really trying to take care of the ball, I thought that was really important,” said Ionescu, who was 10-of-13 from the field, including 7-of-8 from behind the arc. “As a point guard and the primary ball handler, just wanting to continue to work on that part of the game.
“I’m just trying to be the best that I can every time I step out on the floor. It’s me versus me. I’m trying to get better and continue to learn from all the situations that I’ve been put in.”
Sandy Brondello, the coach of New York, claimed that the Liberty used Las Vegas’ explosive offensive approach to their advantage and had their own breakout performance.
“We knew that we would have some opportunities to put points on the board,” Brondello said. “It was more about whether we could stop them and slow them down.”
The Liberty performed better at that in the second half than the first, but essentially this game was about New York’s offense, which had not yet scored 100 points this season. Thursday’s matchup between New York and the Phoenix Mercury will be followed by Ionescu’s first WNBA All-Star Game debut in Chicago.
“I’m so happy for her because she works so hard,” Brondello said. “She’s one of the most tough-minded players that I know. We put a lot on her shoulders, but she’s ready to take that over.”