The Breanna Stewart era has arrived in New York. The star forward scored a whopping 45 points, 12 rebounds and 3 assists as the team beat the Indiana Fever 90-73 in the Liberty’s home opener.
Stewart scored the career-high 45 points in just three quarters, setting a franchise record for the Liberty. The performance also made her the first player in WNBA history to score 40-plus points in her home debut with a franchise.
She shot 15-for-21 from the field, hitting six 3’s. She joins Liz Cambage as the only WNBA players to score 40 points on at least 70% shooting from the field. Her performance also marked just the fifth 45-point double-double in league history.
Stewart was the top free agent this offseason after spending her entire career with the Seattle Storm. Her addition came as the Liberty quickly gained super-team recognition, adding Jonquel Jones and Courtney Vandersloot to a roster that already featured young stars in Sabrina Ionescu and Betnijah Laney.
The highly anticipated team fell short in its season debut, falling to the Washington Mystics 80-64 in a showing that illustrated a lack of team chemistry.
Stewart relished in the redemption during an on-court interview after the game on Sunday. “Feels like I made the right decision,”she said when she was asked how if felt to perform in here home state.
While Stewart had half of the team’s points on Sunday, she had some assistance from the Liberty’s star-studded roster. Newcomer Courtney Vandersloot scored 11 points and 8 assists. All-Star Sabrina Ionescu recorded 9 points and 8 assists. 2021 MVP Jonquel Jones notched 14 points, shooting 6-of-10 from the field. All three of them saw improved performances from the season-opening loss.
For Stewart, the performance had a deeper meaning,
“It was really important to play like this in my debut,” Stewart said. “Because I want people to be here and I want them to come back, and I want more. I want more of everything. And yeah it sounds selfish, but as a women’s basketball player, as a female athlete, we need to continue to get recognized for more in media coverage and fans and eyes and viewership.”
“Hopefully I made a few [good] first impressions on some people, and I hope they come back and they come back with more,” she added.
Fans who are able to get to New York can respond to Stewart’s call on Saturday afternoon when the Liberty will return to Brooklyn and host the Connecticut Sun.