Sabrina Ionescu, Breanna Stewart lead Liberty to win vs. Aces in matchup of WNBA’s top teams


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The New York Liberty defeated the Las Vegas Aces 94-85 on Monday at Barclays Center in the latest matchup between the WNBA’s top teams. Here’s what you need to know:

  • All-Stars Sabrina Ionescu and Breanna Stewart led New York, with Ionescu scoring a game-high 25 points. Stewart notched 20 points, putting up 12 rebounds and seven assists in the win.
  • Jackie Young (24 points) and A’ja Wilson (23 points) paced Las Vegas.
  • The Aces (30-6) continue to lead the Western Conference, while the Liberty (28-7) sit atop the Eastern Conference. The regular-season series between the teams is tied 2-2.

The Athletic’s instant analysis:

Ionescu continues to light up the Aces

Ionescu is in the midst of arguably the best high-volume 3-point shooting season in league history, so her shooting outbursts against Las Vegas aren’t out of the ordinary. But after Ionescu could barely get a shot off in the Liberty’s first meeting against the Aces (coming off a similarly poor performance against the Connecticut Sun two days earlier), there was some concern about her viability in this matchup.

No longer. Ionescu has hit at least five 3-pointers in the last three regular-season meetings against Las Vegas, averaging 26 points per game in the process. She is convincingly winning her matchup against Kelsey Plum and providing huge momentum shifts when she shoots from long distance. The Aces’ guards need to do a better job of keeping track of Ionescu. — Merchant

Battle of MVP candidates didn’t matter as much as the supporting casts

Wilson got going early while Stewart took her time to find her offensive flow, but the two MVP candidates’ production essentially canceled each other out. Meanwhile, Ionescu had 25, equaling the total of Chelsea Gray and Plum, and Courtney Vandersloot added in a double-double of her own, posting 17 points and 10 assists. New York didn’t even need a big night from Jonquel Jones, who has been the difference-maker in previous meetings, as Kayla Thornton and Stefanie Dolson provided the requisite defense off the bench.

On the other side, Las Vegas coach Becky Hammon was so desperate to fill out her rotation that she turned to Sydney Colson in the third quarter. Prior to Monday, Colson had played five minutes all season outside of garbage time. — Merchant

Was fatigue an issue?

Hammon said pregame that she thought about stealing a move from her mentor Gregg Popovich and sitting her starters in this matchup as the Aces took the court for the fourth time in seven days, and ninth in 19 days. The head coach said her players wouldn’t have it, but they certainly looked exhausted. Plum shot 4 of 14 from the field — including hitting the side of the backboard on an open corner 3 — and Gray 3 of 13, as Las Vegas was below 40 percent from the field until a late burst in the fourth quarter. — Merchant

Required reading

(Photo: Evan Yu / NBAE via Getty Images)

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Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams is a writer and editor. Angeles. She writes about politics, art, and culture for LinkDaddy News.

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