Sparks can’t hold off Sabrina Ionescu, Liberty in 5th straight loss – Press Telegram

By DOUG FEINBERG AP Basketball Writer

NEW YORK – Sabrina Ionescu scored eight of her 20 points in the final 2:18 and the Liberty rallied from a 15-point deficit in the third quarter to beat the Sparks, 64-61, on Wednesday night at Barclays Center. .

The Liberty (13-18) earned two wins over the Sparks (12-19) in 24 hours, sweeping the back-to-back set between the teams in the middle of the battle for one of the final playoff spots. . The Sparks bounced back and gave New York a much harder time than they did in a 102-73 loss the night before.

“We shot terribly in the paint, out of the paint, but at the end of the day we kept the faith and buckled down on defense,” said Ionescu, who had eight rebounds and six assists. “We got scores when we needed to. It’s really hard to beat a back-to-back team. We were able to get two wins, which is important for this franchise in this playoff push.”

Coming into Wednesday night’s games, one game separated seventh to 11th in the standings. With the win, New York moved into a tie with Phoenix and Atlanta for seventh place, while the Sparks tied for 10th place with Minnesota. The top eight teams in the 12-team league make the postseason.

Trailing 50-35 with 5:23 left in the third quarter, New York held the Sparks scoreless the rest of the period to cut their deficit to five.

The Sparks finally ended the nearly 7-minute scoreless drought and pulled the lead back to 55-47 before New York scored 13 of the next 17 points to take its first lead of the game on two Ionescu free throws with 1 left: 14. .

After a Sparks miss, Ionescu was fouled on a 3-pointer with 34.1 seconds left. He made two of three free throws to give Liberty a 62-59 lead.

Jordin Canada was fouled driving to the basket and made both free throws to pull the Sparks back to within one with 29.6 to go.

After a timeout, Ionescu ran down the clock before driving into the lane and dribbling in a shot from the free throw line with 6.9 seconds left.

The Sparks had one last chance, but Lexie Brown missed a 3-pointer from the wing just before the buzzer.

Nneka Ogwumike had 19 points and seven rebounds to lead the Sparks, who jumped out to a 24-8 lead after the first quarter when Ogwumike scored seven points. He passed Swin Cash for 20th on the league’s all-time scoring list and now has 5,137 career points.

Sparks can’t hold off Sabrina Ionescu, Liberty in 5th straight loss – Press Telegram Source link Sparks can’t hold off Sabrina Ionescu, Liberty in 5th straight loss – Press Telegram

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