Liberty set WNBA mark with 44-point 1st quarter

NEW YORK — Betnijah Laney scored a season-high 22 points, Jonquel Jones added 18 points and the New York Liberty rode a record hot start to rout the Indiana Fever 101-83 on Sunday.

New York (16-5) made its first nine shots on the way to a 44-point first quarter. That’s the most points ever scored in a period in WNBA history, surpassing the 42 that Chicago had against the Liberty in 2019.

“Anytime we can move the ball side to side and get everybody involved, it causes teams to have to play us honestly and gives us all space to do what we have to do,” Jones said.

The Liberty made 15 of 18 from the field in the first, including six 3-pointers, to go up by 27 points after the opening 10 minutes.

New York cooled off a bit in the second and led 68-46 at the half — just short of the league mark for points in a half.

“If this was a three-quarter game, we win by nine,” an agitated Indiana coach Christie Sides said. “You got to show me you’re ready to play every night. Forty-four points is ridiculous.”

These two teams met right before the All-Star break, and Indiana rallied from a 18-point deficit in the fourth quarter, tying the game at the buzzer on a 3-pointer by Aliyah Boston. The Liberty pulled away in overtime.

There was no such comeback this time as New York finished the game shooting 54% from the field and hit 17 of 34 3s (50%).

“The first quarter is tough, let someone score 44 points, it’s tough to come back from that,” said Victoria Vivians, who led Indiana with 16 points.

The easy win allowed coach Sandy Brondello to get some rest for her starting group. New York enters a tough stretch of its schedule with five games in eight days, although four of them are at home.

While Indiana (6-16) wasn’t really ever in Sunday’s game after the opening quarter, the Fever have already been more successful than last season, when they won five games total.

The Fever saw the return of Lexie Hull, who missed the previous two games after breaking her nose. She sported a clear mask that she said before the game she’ll have to wear for the rest of the season. Hull finished with seven points before fouling out in the fourth quarter.

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