NEW YORK — Sabrina Ionescu has already left her mark in this young season, becoming the fastest player in WNBA history to record a triple-double.
Ionescu had 26 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds to help New York beat the Minnesota Lynx 86-75 on Tuesday night, giving the Liberty their first 3-0 start in 14 years. It was also their first triple-double in franchise history.
“Obviously getting a triple-double in a win is important,” said Ionescu. “Super proud of my teammates, my coaching staff for helping me get that. … I’m super grateful. It’s definitely pretty cool (getting the first one in franchise history).”
At 23 years, 163 days, she is the youngest player in WNBA history to accomplish the feat. The previous youngest was Deanna Nolan (25 years, 269 days) on May 21, 2005, according to Elias Sports Bureau research.
Ionescu, the No. 1 pick in the 2020 WNBA draft, became the ninth different player in league history to have a triple-double and the first since Chelsea Gray did so in 2019. The Liberty’s young star did it in her second season and sixth WNBA game — the earliest in a career that it had ever been done. Sheryl Swoopes, who had the league’s first triple-double and is the only player with two in her career, accomplished the feat in her 59th career game — the previous fastest mark.
Ionescu, who had an NCAA record 26 triple-doubles in college at Oregon, also became the second player in WNBA history with a 20-point triple-double, joining Lisa Leslie, who did so on Sep. 9, 2004 (29 points, 15 rebounds, 10 blocks).
Liberty coach Walt Hopkins wasn’t surprised by his young star’s success.
“She puts the work in for these moments. Does the work in the offseason, so she’s prepared now. She’s got a special mentality in her belief in herself, her teammates and her desire to win,” Hopkins said. “It’s matched by her teammates. We’re getting off to this hot start because they all have that mindset of being hungry.”
Ionescu has now had a game-winning buzzer beater in her first home game Friday and a triple-double in her second game at Barclays Center to help the Liberty to their best start since 2007, when they won their first five games.
“The 3-0 start is a big deal for one, there have been some really great Liberty teams throughout history,” Hopkins said. “That’s pretty special to get out to this. This team getting to see what they are capable of early is a big deal for us.”
New York trailed 45-43 at the half before outscoring Minnesota 19-10 in the third quarter to go up 62-55 heading to the final period.
The Liberty expanded on that lead and Ionescu reached the triple-double, corralling her 10th rebound with 5:24 left in the fourth. She then nailed a 3-pointer at the other end to extend the advantage to 75-65. Minnesota couldn’t get closer the rest of the way.
ESPN Stats & Information and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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