Jonquel Jones leads Liberty to shaky season-opening win over Mystics

WASHINGTON — A new season can come with its initial bumps, and the Liberty looked vulnerable as they opened their second superteam year Tuesday night against the Mystics. 

Nothing about their 85-80 win screamed super. 

Much of the night saw the Mystics testing the Liberty with big blocks and buzzer-beating shots. 

Jonquel Jones led the Liberty with 25 points, Betnijah Laney-Hamilton added 20 and Sabrina Ionescu tallied 15 despite shooting 1-for-7 from 3-point range.

Jonquel Jones of the New York Liberty drives to the basket during the game against the Washington Mystics on May 14, 2024. NBAE via Getty Images

Breanna Stewart also struggled, finishing with just eight points on 3-for-9 shooting. 

Down three at the half and eight points after the three quarters, the Liberty opened the fourth quarter on a 16-4 run to take a 75-71 lead and eventually pushed it to an 81-74 edge with 2:54 remaining. 

But the Mystics made a final charge, thanks in part to charging fouls on Jones and Stewart.

Brittany Sykes took advantage, making three straight baskets to get Washington within 81-80. 

Betnijah Laney-Hamilton #44 of the New York Liberty drives to the basket during the game against the Washington Mystics. NBAE via Getty Images
Karlie Samuelson #44 of the Washington Mystics handles the ball during the game as Sabrina Ionescu #20 of the New York Liberty plays defense on May 14, 2024. NBAE via Getty Images

Ionescu extended the lead to 83-80 with two free throws with 15.8 seconds left, but the Liberty forced Karlie Samuelson into a long 3-point attmept that was off the mark with 2.1 seconds left before Ionescu made two more free throws with 0.2 seconds left. 

The Liberty turned it over 20 times, leading to 19 points for the Mystics.

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