Sabrina Ionescu becomes youngest WNBA player to notch triple-double, first for Liberty

Sabrina Ionescu recorded a triple-double — 24 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds — in the Liberty’s 86-75 win over the Lynx on Tuesday night. As a result, the 23-year-old made WNBA history as the youngest player to record a triple-double and the first to do so for New York.

And in the 25-year history of the league, Ionescu’s triple-double was just the ninth ever.

While the former No. 1 overall pick was happy with her efforts in all facets of the game, she was focused on one thing a lot more than her final stat line.

“Obviously getting a triple-double in a win is what’s important,” Ionescu said. “If I got that in a loss it wouldn’t mean anything to me. Super proud of my teammates for helping me get that, my coaching staff. Those things never are easy, and they never come without help from everyone else on the court. So I’m just super thankful to have the teammates around me and be surrounded by such great players. But it’s definitely pretty cool.”

MORE: Ionescu completes Kobe Bryant tribute with game-winning 3

This may not be the last triple-double we see from Ionescu. The former Oregon star is the NCAA’s all-time leader in triple-doubles with 26 and was playing just her sixth game for the Liberty when she achieved her first one in the WNBA.

She may have a chance to notch a second on this season, and if she can do that she’ll become just the second WNBA player to total two triple-doubles. Sheryl Swoopes (1999, 2005) is the only player to reach that pinnacle so far.

That Ionescu is already within striking distance of a major record speaks to her talent. It also speaks to the improvement she was able to make after a largely lost first season. The start of her rookie campaign was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, her trip to the “Wubble” was cut short after three games because of a Grade 3 ankle sprain.

As a result, she played in only three games as a rookie while the Liberty stumbled to an awful 2-20 record.

But just a year later, Ionescu has helped to turn things around for New York. The Liberty have started the 2021 WNBA season with a league-best 3-0 record and already have more wins than last season. Out of the gate, Ionescu has been a key cog in the team’s rapid turnaround, and her year-to-year stats show it.

2020 Season Stat 2021 Season
18.3 Points 21
4.7 Rebounds 9
4 Assists 7
35 3-point % 52.6

Granted, that’s a small sample size in both instances (three games in each season). But nonetheless, in this limited sample, Ionescu has improved and is helping lead New York to wins. If she continues to do that, she has a chance to become an all-time great in the game.

And at the very least, she should be the biggest WNBA triple-double threat on a nightly basis.

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