Sabrina Ionescu set the WNBA record for three-point makes in...

Sabrina Ionescu set the WNBA record for three-point makes in a season with 128. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Sabrina Ionescu sent up one last long rainbow, a parting shot from 29 feet in the final minute. It swished through the net and put an exclamation point on the most prolific three-point shooting display in Liberty postseason history.

She began backpedaling and pretending to shoot with her hot hands like a gunslinger in an old Western.

The fans at Barclays Center waved their white towels. The Washington Mystics could have waved white flags.

Ionescu sank six three-pointers in nine tries in the second half of the Liberty’s 90-75 Game 1 win in the opening round of the WNBA playoffs on Friday night. She finished with seven, setting a Liberty playoff record.

“Sabrina closed it pretty good,” coach Sandy Brondello said.

Her 20 points after intermission and 29 overall helped put the Liberty in position to close out the best-of-three series Tuesday night in Brooklyn.

“I was kind of just in that zone, locked in,” Ionescu said.

The area beyond the arc has been her comfort zone all season. Her three-point shooting serves as a large weapon for a Liberty team chasing the franchise’s first league championship. She also smashed several three-point records in the Liberty’s 32-8 regular-season run.

This 5-11 fourth-year guard set the WNBA record for three-point makes in a season with 128. She finished third overall in three-point percentage at 44.8%, but she set the league’s single-season record for those with a minimum of 200 attempts.

Her 11.5% increase over her 33.3% accuracy from last season was another WNBA record.

So how did this happen?

“Having other great players around me has just opened up that part of my game,” said Ionescu, who averaged 17.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists. “I went into the offseason last year understanding that we were going to make some changes to this roster and knowing that I can bring that to this team.

“And so I put in a lot of work to be able to rely on my three-point shot, but also understanding that it opens up the floor for my teammates.”

In June, Ionescu set a Liberty single-game record with eight threes.

In July, she took the league’s three-point contest, setting a new standard for success — WNBA or NBA — with 37 points in the final round.

The two-time All-Star’s teammates have enjoyed the view.

“It’s amazing to watch it,” Jonquel Jones said. “It’s amazing to be a part of it.”



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