New York Liberty rookie Sabrina Ionescu found out WNBA opponents are unwilling to give her a honeymoon period in the league, instead swarming her with defensive attention from the get-go.
Ionescu struggled to handle the Seattle Storm’s aggressive approach in an 87-71 debut loss, shooting 4-of-17 from the floor with four turnovers. She missed all eight of her 3-point attempts.
Still, the No. 1 overall pick from Oregon stuffed the box score as she so often did in college and demonstrated her inclination to be her team’s top offensive option. She finished the contest with 12 points, six boards and four assists.
Here’s Ionescu’s first bucket as a pro:
Ionescu became a national star at Oregon who carried more hype than almost any other collegiate women’s basketball player before her. She became the first-ever NCAA player to record at least 2,000 points, 1,000 assists, and 1,000 rebounds in a career. Many expected her to cap her decorated career in Eugene with a national championship — an opportunity taken from her by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Liberty are optimistic Ionescu can accelerate their rebuild and vault them from bottom-dwelling Eastern Conference nobody to playoff contender. They went 10-24 last year and 7-27 in 2018.
In Saturday’s loss, though, New York guard Kia Nurse went down with a sprained ankle. The severity of the injury is not yet known.