Liberty beat Sparks, 87-79, to take No. 2 spot in standings

Breanna Stewart lead the Liberty over the Sparks with 25 points and 9 rebounds, in the first meeting of the season between the two teams. Getty Images photo.

Breanna Stewart lead the New York Liberty over the Los Angeles Sparks Sunday, 87-79, with 25 points and 9 rebounds in a game where they never trailed.

Marine Johannes made 5 of 7 from 3-point range and finished with 15 points for the 19-6 Liberty, while Jonquel Jones scored 13 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, and Sabrina Ionescu added 14 points.

New York, which played its seventh game in 12 days, is off to the best 25-game start in franchise history. The Liberty have won five of their last six. Los Angeles had just won two straight, snapping a franchise-worst 8-game losing streak.

Ionescu and Johannes each hit two 3-pointers in a 19-0 run to start the game, which gave the visitors a 21-2 lead with 2:52 left in the first quarter. Nneka Ogwumike then scored for the Sparks, but they went scoreless again for the next nearly-six minutes, missing 12 straight field-goal attempts. New York, in contrast, shot 56 percent from 3 for the first three quarters.

Dearica Hamby scored 21 points, Jordin Canada added 17 and Azurá Stevens 13 for the Sparks. Ogwumike had 10 points.

The Liberty moved a game in front of third-place Connecticut in the WNBA standings, 3 1/2 games back of first-place Las Vegas.

New York hit 15 3-pointers and finished with 26 assists on 32 made field goals. The Liberty became just the second team in WNBA history to have at least 12 games with 25-plus assists in a single-season, joining the 2022 Chicago Sky (18).