Stefanie Dolson came off the bench to lead a 3-point avalanche as the host New York Liberty significantly dented the Los Angeles Sparks’ playoff chances with a 96-89 win on Thursday.
Dolson made all five of her 3-point attempts and shot 6-for-7 overall to finish with 17 points in just 13 minutes of action. Breanna Stewart led New York with 25 points, Betnijah Laney posted 20 points and seven assists and Courtney Vandersloot bundled six points with 10 assists.
New York’s Sabrina Ionescu logged 16 points with five assists and four rebounds while setting the WNBA single-season 3-point record. Her triple from the corner with 7:21 left in the third quarter was her 122nd of the season, surpassing Diana Taurasi’s mark set in 2006.
The Liberty (32-7) shot 17 of 34 from long distance overall.
Layshia Clarendon scored a career-high 30 points to pace the Sparks (16-23), who were without leading scorer and rebounder Nneka Ogwumike for the third straight game due to knee pain. Azura Stevens and Rae Burrell each tallied 18 points, Dearica Hamby chipped in 11 points and eight assists and Jordin Canada finished with 10 points and five assists.
Los Angeles used just seven players and were outscored 25-2 in bench points.
The Sparks fell out of a tie for the final playoff position with the eighth-place Chicago Sky (16-22), who can eliminate Los Angeles with a home win over the Minnesota Lynx on Friday.
Dolson made four straight 3-pointers within a 1:47 span in the fourth quarter to flip the Sparks’ 74-69 lead into an 81-78 New York advantage with 7:23 remaining.
New York’s Marine Johannes and Canada traded layups before Laney hit from the top of the key to widen the Liberty’s lead to 86-80.
Clarendon’s layup pulled Los Angeles to within four, only for Thornton and Ionescu to respond from deep with New York’s sixth and seventh consecutive triples as the Liberty’s advantage grew to 92-82 with 3:31 left to play.
The Sparks never drew closer than seven points the rest of the way.
Los Angeles rode a 28-7 run that bridged the first and second quarters to lead 50-43 at the break.
Ionescu made all three of her 3-point attempts, including her milestone triple, as New York shot 10 of 14 from the field to begin the second half. Los Angeles kept the Liberty at bay with a string of timely triples to carry a 74-69 edge into the final quarter.
–Field Level Media