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Ionescu and Jones push Liberty over Sparks

Catalina Fragoso / National Basketball Association / Getty

NEW YORK (AP) — Sabrina Ionescu scored 31 points and Jonquel Jones added 22 to help the New York Liberty beat the Los Angeles Sparks 93-80 on Thursday night.

The Sparks were playing their first game since they lost star rookie Cameron Brink to an ACL tear in her left knee.

The Liberty (13-3) led 60-54 with 2:58 left in the third quarter before Ionescu and Jones combined to score the first 11 points of a 13-0 run to give New York a double-digit cushion. Ionescu got it started with consecutive 3-pointers and Jones added one. Ionescu then found Jones for an easy layin on the next possession.

Zia Cooke hit two free throws with 3.6 seconds left to end the drought for the Sparks (4-12).

Los Angeles chipped away at the lead and only trailed 82-76 with 2:56 left before consecutive 3-pointers by New York put the game away.

Aari McDonald scored 15 points and Cooke added 13 to lead the Sparks.

New York was missing guard Betnijah Laney-Hamilton who has been bothered by a right knee issue the last few days. Coach Sandy Brondello said that Laney-Hamilton had soreness as well as swelling and discomfort after the team's red-eye flight back from Phoenix on Tuesday night.

The Liberty are still playing without Nyara Sabally (back) and Courtney Vandersloot (personal).

New York held a moment of silence before the game for Vandersloot's mom Jan, who died over the weekend, according to the team.

She had been diagnosed with advanced multiple myeloma in July 2022,

Neither team got off to a great start offensively and the game was tied at 33 with just over 3 minutes left in the first half before the Liberty closed the second quarter with a 10-3 run.

Jones had the first five points of the spurt and Breanna Stewart had a turnaround shot on the baseline just before the half ended to make it 43-36.

The teams will play again on Saturday.



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