New York Liberty: Sabrina Ionescu & Breanna Stewart talk Success and Chemistry.

7/23/2023- The New York Liberty defeated the Indiana Fever 101-83, and I had the opportunity to briefly talk with Sabrina Ionescu and Breanna Stewart post-game.

The New York Liberty made history against the Indiana Fever on Sunday. They were the first team to ever score 44 points in any given first quarter in WNBA History.

No, Sabrina Ionescu and Breanna Stewart didn't lead the way, however I had the chance to catch up with them post-game. They both were extremely humble, and gave their insight on the team's success, and what the Liberty need to do, now that the season is halfway over.

Breanna Stewart, 28, is in the first year of her contract with the New York Liberty. Stewart, known as "Stewie," was a 2x WNBA Champion with the Seattle Storm. The former No. 1 pick has New York roots and is back in her home state. In Sunday's game, Breanna Stewart had 11 points, 3 assists, 4 rebounds, 2 steals, and shot 4-11 from the field.

"I'm not sure what we shot from for that quarter, but it was incredible, and everybody was playing free and being comfortable—people were shooting confidently and also knowing, that's our goal," said Breanna Stewart on her team making WNBA history.

With 3:42 to go in the first-quarter, Fever rookie, Aliyah Boston caught a flagrant foul type 1, after Stewart took an elbow to the face. Aliyah Boston and Breanna Stewart have two things in common: They both were a former No. 1 overall draft pick, and they both won a championship at the collegiate level. "Stewie" spoke on the incident following the flagrant.

"[I mean] I just caught an elbow, things like that happen."

Stewart offered some encouraging words for the Fever Center, and advice about being a top WNBA pick.

"Taking one day at a time—enjoy all the moments, enjoy the struggles, because this is a journey, and [you know] —you're gonna continue to build with an Indiana Fever franchise, that's only getting better." Breanna Stewart on her advice as a rookie and what the future holds for Aliyah Boston.

After the win on Sunday, The Liberty are 16-5, and stand first in the Eastern Conference. With that said, New York already surpassed their record from 2022-2023, and the second half of the season has started. The Liberty are the second-best team, and only one team stands in there way, the Las Vegas Aces. What separates the Aces from the Liberty, or even the Connecticut Sun, is their net and offensive rating. While the Liberty rank second in the league in net rating (7.4), the Aces have them beat at a stellar 19.2. In addition, Las Vegas has an offensive rating of 114.1, while the Liberty have a 107.8 offensive rating. Las Vegas had four All-Stars represent the organization, and is chasing the best record in league history, held by the Phoenix Suns in 2014.

When I asked about Stewart's confidence in her team, she confidently smiled and stated, " We're now in like the second half of the season— I know that we wanna continue to get better. What we did in the first half is great—we're taking it one game at a time."

When asked about the Las Vegas Aces, Stewie humbly talked about her team, and how they plan to move forward, knowing the Aces stand in their way. "Obviously everyone's talking about Vegas, and we'll see them in the Commisioner's Cup, and in August, but making sure that [you know] we continue to do our due diligence for everybody and focus on that. "

While acknowledging the talent in the WNBA, Stewart stated the importance of doing their homework and staying to themselves. "If we continue to look at ourselves, and continue to get better that way, then the rest is for everyone else."

Breanna Stewart also opened up about teammate, Betnijah Laney, who had a career-high 22 points last game, and her playstyle. "I've known her for a long time, like since we were 14 or 16—so to be back with her, know that she never stops—I'm looking for her, she's looking for me, and just continuing to build that chemistry, because she gets open— she's open a lot, especially in the corners. "

Breanna Stewart on hard work and how it pays off on the court, " I think it's more like trusting the process and continuing to kind of stick with it."

Sabrina Ionescu on Sunday's game, rest days, and the rest of the season.

Sabrina Ionescu, 25, is a two-time All-Star, and just broke the all-time NBA and WNBA three-point contest record with 37. Ionescu, drafted first overall in 2016, has a different role now that her, Breanna Stewart and Jonquel Jones formed a "superteam."

When asked about the team's success moving forward, Sabrina was very adamant about trusting her teammates, specifically the bench. "To have players come in off the bench and hit—hitting shots and playing in rhythm—it's huge for us as a team, and for them themselves, to just continue to build confidence.

Ionescu also mentioned the importance of gameplay and how the Liberty were able to play so effective against the Fever. " We're building chemistry—we were able to play to each other's strengths and use the gravity that we have— not letting defenses really dictate what we wanna do—and we were able to do that tonight. "

Now that the season is halfway over, New York has to lock in for 19 regular season games before the start of the playoffs. Sabrina was able to shed light on her rest days, and how the team mentally and physically prepares for the next game. "You know, normally we're in here trying to get extra shots up—understanding what the schedule looks ahead, means [you know] tomorrow is off, and everyone's gotta get their feet and take time to recover—we gotta stay fresh and locked in to be able to play for 40 minutes because we play at such a fast pace."

I specifically asked Sabrina about her ability to stay humble and stay disciplined following her historic All-Star weekend. Ionescu confidently stated, "I know what I'm capable of—capable of doing [you know] every single night, and I trust the work that I've put in." "Whether it's tonight or games in the future, I know that I'm gonna have to hit shots for us to continue to win basketball games."

The New York Liberty will look to build on their success tomorrow against the Seattle Storm, at home.

Stay tuned for more WNBA and basketball related articles. 

Sara Jane Gamelli is a full-time Sportswriter at BallisLife, Journalist, and Sports Content Creator on Twitch. She has a focus on the NBA, WNBA, NCAA Basketball, and the NFL. Sara Jane currently resides in Connecticut with her Cat and Dog. She is a Boston Celtics, Boston Bruins, New York Yankees, and New York Giants fan. SJ has her undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut in Economics.

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