Fresh off scoring a franchise-record 116 points in a win over the Las Vegas Aces, the New York Liberty visit the Phoenix Mercury on Thursday in each teams’ last contest before the All-Star break.
New York’s Sabrina Ionescu recorded the first triple-double in WNBA history with at least 30 points on Wednesday, going for 31 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists in a 116-107 Liberty win.
“As long as we win, it doesn’t matter, but I’m trying to be the best that I can in all aspects of the game,” Ionescu said of her history-making performance during the postgame press conference.
Ionescu also tied the WNBA career record for triple-doubles with her third, matching the mark set by the Chicago Sky’s Candace Parker earlier this season.
New York (9-12) snapped a two-game skid with the victory, leveling its record at 1-1 on a three-game Western road swing.
Phoenix (9-14) saw a three-game winning streak end Saturday in a 91-75 loss at Chicago. The Mercury fell again Monday in Los Angeles, 78-75, when the Sparks answered each of Phoenix’s rally efforts down the stretch.
The Mercury never trailed by more than four points in the game’s final 6:38 but failed to take a lead during that stretch, despite tying the score with 4:21 to go.
Monday’s loss came just hours after news broke of Phoenix center Brittney Griner sending a handwritten letter to the White House, pleading for intervention to facilitate her release from Russian imprisonment.
From a basketball perspective, Griner’s detention since February left a void in the interior of the Mercury lineup that was compounded with the departure of veteran Tina Charles last month.
Charles agreed to a “contract divorce” with Phoenix on June 25.
“It’s tough … not having a lot of depth at the post position,” Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard said this week, according to the Arizona Republic. “We have to be very reactive to the other team, and maybe play different personnel based on the team.”
Phoenix will have some size with which to contend on Thursday. New York features a frontcourt that includes 6-foot-10 Han Xu and 6-foot-5 Stefanie Dolson. Xu is coming off a career-high 24-point performance on Wednesday that saw her shoot 11-for-12 from the floor.
–Field Level Media