Sabrina Ionescu shares embrace with Vanessa Bryant after game-winner lifts Liberty to crucial win
After arguably the biggest win of the season came courtesy of Sabrina Ionescu, the former Oregon standout found Vanessa Bryant and her daughters courtside and shared a special moment.
The New York Liberty had lost five straight games heading into a matchup with the defending champion Chicago Sky Saturday night. The team’s playoff hopes were in peril. After letting a 10-point fourth-quarter lead evaporate, the Liberty trailed by two with 19 seconds left and turned to their All-Star.
SABRINA IONESCU!! 😲
Ties up the game and gives the Liberty the opportunity to lead with 9.7 secs left in the game! pic.twitter.com/yaw7CwRWBs
— WNBA (@WNBA) July 24, 2022
A three-point play converted at the line gave the Liberty a one-point lead with 9.7 seconds to play. They would go on to secure an 83-80 victory to end the Sky’s six-game winning streak. Ionescu scored 17 points to go with nine assists and eight rebounds. After the game, she found Bryant.
Sabrina Ionescu shares a moment with Vanessa Bryant and her daughters after her go ahead and-1 to win the game ❤️ pic.twitter.com/Ea6PlwURxC
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 24, 2022
Kobe Bryant, Vanessa’s late husband and NBA champion, was a mentor for Ionescu before his passing. Kobe brought his daughter, Gigi, to an Oregon game against USC and then to the Ducks locker room after the game, the first time he met Ionescu. A relationship blossomed from there. Bryant would text her after games. She spoke at his memorial service on February 24, 2020.
Later that day, she became the first player ever in Division I NCAA college basketball to record over 2,000 career points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds. Her 26th career triple-double came via a 21-point, 12-rebound, 12-assist performance in a win over Stanford.
Ionescu has enjoyed a breakout year this season for the Liberty and has her squad in the playoff conversation even after a 1-7 start. Typical Mamba stuff