Liberty off to best start in franchise history as Breanna Stewart scores 33 points to lead win over Sparks

Breanna Stewart scored 33 points to lead the New York Liberty to a 98–88 win over the Los Angeles Sparks on Saturday. With the victory, the Liberty improved their record to 14–3, the best start after 17 games in franchise history.

Last season's squad ran out to a franchise-best 18–5 record, but the .783 winning percentage is less than the .824 mark this year's Liberty team currently has. The 2023 Liberty had a 13–4 record (.765) after 17 games.

At 14–3, the Liberty still currently trail the Connecticut Sun, who hold the WNBA's best record at 13–2 going into Saturday's road matchup with the Seattle Storm (9–6).

Stewart shot 12-for-19 from the floor, while adding seven assists, six blocks and three steals. The 33 points matches her season-high, which she also reached in a June 4 matchup versus the Chicago Sky. (She scored a career- and franchise-high 45 points last season against the Indiana Fever.) Stewart also became the first player in WNBA history to notch 20-plus (24) points, five assists and five blocks in one half of action.

Sabrina Ionescu added 24 points, six rebounds and nine assists for New York, while Kayla Thornton tallied 20 points (shooting 6-for-7 on 3-pointers) and six rebounds.

Saturday's win was the second consecutive over the Sparks, with the two teams matched up in back-to-back at Brooklyn's Barclays Center in a curious schedule quirk. New York also won on Thursday, 93–80.

Los Angeles was led by Dearica Hamby's 20 points, six rebounds, five assists and three blocks. Zia Cooke followed with 14 points. This was the Sparks' second game since star rookie Cameron Brink suffered a season-ending knee injury in Tuesday's loss to the Sun.

The Liberty played without Courtney Vandersloot — who has been away from the team to be with her mother, who died last weekend. New York was also without Betnijah Laney-Hamilton, recovering from a knee injury, and Nyara Sabally, out with a back injury.

Up next for the Liberty is a road matchup with the Atlanta Dream on Sunday before getting a week off. The Sparks travel to play the Phoenix Mercury on Friday.