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May 14, 2024 9:20 pm

Jonquel Jones, Liberty hold off Mystics

wnba basketball

Jonquel Jones scored 25 points and Betnijah Laney-Hamilton added 20 as the visiting New York Liberty earned a season-opening, 85-80 win over the Washington Mystics on Tuesday.

The Liberty were also boosted by the play of Sabrina Ionescu, who piled up 15 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and two blocks. Reinging WNBA MVP Breanna Stewart scored just eight points on 3-of-9 shooting. Stewart and Jones each grabbed eight rebounds.

Ariel Atkins powered the Mystics with 20 points, while Brittney Sykes chipped in 14 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. Stefanie Dolson added 12 points, and Shakira Austin had 13 points and a career-best five blocks.

Down 67-59 after three quarters, New York charged back in the fourth, opening the final period on a 16-4 run, powered by eight points from Jones.

The Mystics then trimmed the Liberty’s lead to point, but Austin missed what would have been the go-ahead bucket — a layup off an offensive rebound — with 17 seconds to go. Stewart grabbed the board and Ionescu made two free throws to seal the victory for New York.

Washington trailed by nine points midway through the second quarter after Ionescu sank a free throw after she was fouled while connecting on a 16-footer. Ivana Dojkic then pushed the Liberty’s advantage to 10 points with 3:37 to play in the half by hitting 1 of 2 free throws.

The Mystics then ended the second period on a 13-0 run to take a three-point lead into intermission. Karlie Samuelson had five points during that stretch and assisted on the 3-pointer Austin hit to cap off the run. That span was also highlighted by Austin stuffing one of Stewart’s shots at the rim.

Washington led by eight points going into the final period after Julie Vanloo made a 3-pointer from the logo at the third-quarter buzzer. That shot marked the first points Vanloo scored in a WNBA game, as the 31-year-old from Belgium was making her debut in the league. A 5-foot-8 guard who previously starred in France, Turkey and Australia, among other countries, Vanloo finished with three points and four assists.

The Liberty remain on the road, playing at the Indiana Fever on Thursday. The Mystics travel to oppose the Connecticut Sun on Friday.

–Field Level Media

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