Sabrina Ionescu collects 2nd career triple-double in WNBA-record 3 quarters

Sabrina Ionescu joined the exclusive group of WNBA players with multiple triple-doubles on Sunday and it only took her three quarters to do it.

Ionescu brought down her 10th rebound as the horn sounded on the third quarter in addition to her 14 points and 10 assists at the time. She became the first to do so in only 30 minutes of game time, per the WNBA.

Ionescu finished with 27 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists in the New York Liberty's 88-86 loss at home to the Chicago Sky. She was 9-of-16 and 3-of-6 from 3-point range.

Ionescu's free throws gave New York (5-9) the lead back, 86-85, with 34.5 on the clock. The Liberty struggled to rebound in the final half-minute, giving the Sky (9-4) far too many opportunities. Courtney Vandersloot hit the game-winning 3-pointer with .9 seconds on the clock for the reigning champions to leave Barclays with the win.

"It should give us confidence that we know that we're there, but we lost," head coach Sandy Brondello said. "Stay hungry; that should piss you off. We need to be be better in certain situations. It sucks, too, because Sab[rina] had a triple-double, but it stings when you don't win."

The Liberty had won four of their last five, but were outscored by eight in the final stanza. Stefanie Dolson had 12 points, five rebounds and four assists. Crystal Dangerfield, playing on a second 10-day hardship contract, scored 11 on 4-of-7 shooting with two steals and an assist. Han Xu had 10 points off the bench.

Ionescu coming for WNBA triple-double crown

The third-year guard became the youngest to ever have a triple-double when she reached in May 2021. She is now the fourth player in league history with multiple triple-doubles, and again the youngest to do it. Sheryl Swoopes put up her second in season No. 8.

The other two players were on the court in Chicago Sky blue on Sunday. Vandersloot secured her second in the 2021 playoffs and Candace Parker became the oldest in league history with one when she got her second late last month.

Her point total fell two short of the triple-double record set at 29 by Lisa Leslie, via Across the Timeline. She now has two of the three total 20-plus point triple-double games. And as often is the case for the sharp-shooting star, no attempt was too deep to take on Sunday.

Ionescu's is the 13th triple-double game in WNBA history as that number continues to balloon in modern fast-paced, higher-scoring offenses. She set the NCAA record for triple-doubles by men or women when she brought in her 13th as a junior at Oregon in 2018. By her collegiate career's end she set the record at 26.

Ionescu catching fire in June

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - MAY 27: Sabrina Ionescu #20 of the New York Liberty looks on against the Seattle Storm during the third quarter at Climate Pledge Arena on May 27, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
Sabrina Ionescu is quickly coming for the WNBA record for triple-doubles. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Ionescu, 24, has been on a tear this month. She was nearly perfect in a June 7 blowout of the Minnesota Lynx and would have reached a triple-double if she'd played any fourth-quarter minutes. In 26 minutes, Ionescu reached 26 points, eight assists and eight rebounds. She hit all four 3-pointers and was 10-of-11 overall.

In the first four games of the month she averaged 26 points, 5.5 rebounds and five assists per game shooting 57%. Her last outing against the Fever, she put up 13 points, seven assists and six rebounds.

The Liberty and first-year head coach Sandy Brondello won on opening night, but lost seven straight after that as injuries and new faces impacted the first third of the year. They've gone 4-2 since, only falling to the Minnesota Lynx by seven last week and now the Sky.

Ionescu ranks 19th in the early returns for All-Star voting, the league announced this week. She leads all Liberty players with 5,710 fan votes and is the only New York player in the top 30.

Sky keep pace with top of standings

The Sky kept pace as a top-four team in the standings with the win as the league passes its one-third mark of the 36-game season.

Vandersloot and Emma Meesseman each had double-doubles. Vandersloot scored 20 points with 10 assists and six rebounds. She was 9-of-17 and made two of three 3-point attempts. Meesseman had 20 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks. She was 10-of-14.

Allie Quigley had 16 points and four assists. Kahleah Copper had 13 points and six rebounds. The Sky demolished the Liberty on the boards at plus-15 (41-26). They had five in the 30 seconds after Ionescu's free throws during the final minute.

The Las Vegas Aces continue to pace the league at 11-2, followed by the Connecticut Sun (10-4), Sky (9-4) and Washington Mystics (9-5). The top two teams no longer have playoff byes in the new postseason set-up, but the top four will host the first two games of the best-of-three series.