NEW YORK — It would have been more than understandable if the New York Liberty experienced a letdown on Friday night, for they hadn’t played a game in five days and might have been ripe for the picking after achieving their season’s high point — humiliating the best team in the WNBA by almost 40 points.
As it turned out, the first 10 minutes tonight was more of the same dominance from the Liberty, and the final 10 minutes saw them close out another victory like a team ready for a championship run.
Breanna Stewart led four players in double figures in scoring as New York used a hot-shooting first quarter to set the tone in a 89-73 victory over the Chicago Sky inside the Barclays Center. Stewart added 12 rebounds, while Sabrina Ionescu made five three-pointers on her way to 19 points and Jonquel Jones had 18 points and seven rebounds. The Liberty, coming off their 99-61 victory over the defending champion Las Vegas Aces last Sunday afternoon, have won five straight and nine of their last 10 games.
New York never trailed in the contest, shooting a scorching 71 percent from the field in the first quarter (12-for-17) to open up a 12-point lead after the first quarter, and turned 19 Sky turnovers into 27 points on the night.
Chicago’s best stretch of the game started at the beginning of the second quarter, when it went on a 21-11 run to cut the Liberty’s lead to 39-37, but could not forge into the lead before the Liberty reestablished control. Stewart hit a three-pointer to extend the lead to five, with the shot serving as the start of a 9-0 New York run.
Holding onto a nine-point (64-55) at the end of three quarters, New York recaptured the shooting touch that it started the game with, making eight of its first 12 shots from the field in the final stanza to see the game off. Ionescu’s deep three from the right wing after a Sky turnover on a shot clock violation gave the Liberty a 77-61 advantage with 5:28 left.
Four of the Liberty’s five starters — Stewart, Ionescu, Jones and Betnijah Laney — shot at least 50 percent from the field in the game, while Kayla Thornton made all three of her field goal attempts in the game, including a three-pointer.
Forward Alanna Smith led Chicago with 19 points, while guard Courtney Williams finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Friday evening’s contest, with photos taken by ALOST photographer Jenny Rohl. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 12 pictures in total.