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Liberty’s trio of stars overpower Sparks for latest win

by Ohio Digital News

This is the beauty of a superteam.

This is the greatness of Breanna Stewart.

Down two starters, the Liberty have barely blinked.

Slowed down, briefly, perhaps.

But the Liberty train keeps chugging along with little sign of anything getting in its way.

They played without Courtney Vandersloot and Betnijah Laney-Hamilton again, but the Liberty have just too much firepower.

Stewart, Sabrina Ionescu and Jonquel Jones were enough themselves as the Liberty (14-3) cruised past the Los Angeles Sparks, 98-88, on Saturday afternoon at Barclays Center.

Breanna Stewart scored 33 points for the Liberty during their win against the Sparks. Michelle Farsi for the NY Post

The win was the 10th in the past 11 games for the Liberty — who, at 14-3, are off to the best 17-game start in franchise history — and their second consecutive without the two starters, both of which came in back-to-back home games against the Sparks.

Stewart, Ionescu and Jones scored 28 of the Liberty’s 30 points to close the second quarter, highlighted by a deep 30-foot 3-pointer by Ionescu.

Stewart herself scored eight of 10 points during one stretch of that run.

The Sparks had no answer for Stewart as she finished with 33 points and seven assists and shot a red-hot 12-for-19 from the field.

Jonquel Jones added 14 points, 13 rebounds and five assists
for the Liberty. Michelle Farsi for the NY Post

She was also heavily involved on the defensive end, recording three steals and six blocks — tying a regular-season, single-game career high in rejections.

Stewart brought the crowd to its feet and to a roar when she stuffed Stephanie Talbot on a fast break in the third quarter.

Stewart recorded 24 points, five assists and five blocks in the first half alone, becoming the first player in WNBA history to record at least 20 points, five assists, and five blocks in a single half.

Ionescu added 24 points and nine assists while Jones chipped in 14 points and 13 rebounds.

And the Liberty’s depth goes well beyond their stars.

Veteran Kayla Thornton, filling in for Laney-Hamilton, finished with 20 points.

Breanna Stewart blocked five shots in the first half of the
Liberty’s win Saturday. Michelle Farsi for the NY Post

She drilled four big 3-pointers in the third quarter, first extending the Liberty’s lead to 60-46 with 7:10 left in the third quarter to give them their largest lead of the game to that point after the Sparks started the second half hot.

After Ionescu expertly found Stewart on a fast break for a 67-51 lead, another 3-pointer from Thornton gave the Liberty a 70-51 lead.

Another trey from Thornton soon after made it 75-53 with 3:32 left in the third quarter.

Thornton finished 6-for-7 from behind the arc.

The Liberty momentarily stumbled in the second quarter, finding themselves behind 31-23.

But they subsequently rattled off an 8-0 run to tie the game at 31-31 with 7:07 left in the quarter and continued to a 21-6 run to take a 44-37 lead with 3:20 left in the quarter.

That ballooned to 54-44 by halftime, and the Liberty didn’t look back.

Leonie Fiebich, filling in again for Vandersloot, was quiet with seven points.

Dearica Hamby paced Los Angeles with 20 points.

The Sparks are without popular rookie and No. 2 overall pick Cameron Brink, who is out for the rest of the year with a torn ACL.

The Sparks shot just 29.6 percent from 3-point range, compared to the Liberty’s 44.4 percent.

Already nearly unstoppable in recent weeks, this Liberty juggernaut is only set to get some of their best players back soon.

Who — or what — is going to stymie them?

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