On Friday, her first sport again since a sprained ankle sidelined her for many of her rookie season in 2020, Ionescu hit a game-winning three with lower than one second remaining to offer the New York Liberty a 90-87 win over the Indiana Fever within the first sport of the twenty fifth WNBA season.
“I try not to think about basketball too much the night before a game because I get nervous and don’t sleep,” Ionescu mentioned. “But I 100% had envisioned hitting a game winner. So when we were tied, and walking into the huddle, I just was smiling because it was almost like too good to be true. I was like, I’m going to hit this if the coaches draw up a play for me to get the ball.
“My coaches believed in me. My group believed in me. I used to be simply prepared for the second. I’ve been ready some time to get again on the courtroom. I’m simply so pleased that we have been capable of get this win.”
“I’m excited to get down there and watch it, be with household and buddies and with the ability to simply watch his legacy reside on by way of all of us, everybody that was near him, everybody that he touched,” Ionescu said. “It’s superb to see how that is going to proceed to reside on in younger women, boys, individuals in every single place. I’m tremendous excited to go and see that. No one is extra deserving. He deserves it, and I’m so pleased for him.”
Ionescu, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 WNBA draft, tied the game with two made free throws with 21.8 seconds left. After Indiana guard Kelsey Mitchell was called for traveling with 5.8 seconds to go, New York got the ball back, setting up Ionescu to make her dream a reality, draining the three-point shot and leaving just 0.4 seconds left on the clock. She finished with 25 points, 11 assists and six rebounds.
This was her first game at the Barclays Center in New York, as last year’s WNBA season took place in Bradenton, Florida, because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“She has a fairly particular manner of rising to the second,” Liberty head coach Walt Hopkins said of his star guard. “You get to see it daily in follow. But these big-time conditions is the place she shines. It’s what she lives for. I’m fairly excited that she’s on my group.”