WNBA: Breanna Stewart, Sue Bird return as Storm top Liberty in Sabrina Ionescu’s debut

Seattle Storm forward Breanna Stewart goes up for a shot in front of New York Liberty's Leaonna Odom on Saturday.
Seattle forward Breanna Stewart goes up for a shot in front of New York’s Leaonna Odom during the second half Saturday in Bradenton, Fla.
(Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press)

Breanna Stewart had 18 points, eight rebounds and four steals in her first WNBA game since helping Seattle win the 2018 championship, sending the Storm past the New York Liberty 87-71 on Saturday in the season opener for both teams.

The 2020 WNBA season, delayed and shortened by the coronavirus outbreak, is unfolding in a bubble at the IMG Academy.

Stewart missed all of last season after tearing her Achilles tendon while playing for her Russian club team in April 2019.


Jewell Loyd scored 14 points and Sue Bird — who also missed the 2019 season, because of a knee injury — added 11 points, hitting three of five from three-point range, and five assists for Seattle.

Forward Nneka Ogwumike made all eight of her shots to lead six Sparks in double figures with 21 points in a 99-76 win over the Phoenix Mercury.

Sabrina Ionescu had 12 points, six rebounds and four assists in her WNBA debut. Ionescu, the No. 1 pick in April’s draft , was four-for-17 shooting, missing all eight of her three-point range attempts, and committed four turnovers.

New York Liberty forward Sabrina Ionescu goes up for a shot as Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd watches.
Liberty forward Sabrina Ionescu goes up for a shot as Storm guard Jewell Loyd looks on during the second half.
(Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press)

Layshia Clarendon led the Liberty with 20 points.

Neither team took the court for the national anthem, and there was a 26-second moment of silence for Breonna Taylor. Taylor, an African American emergency medical technician, was shot dead in her apartment by police executing a no-knock search warrant on suspicion of drug possession in Louisville, Ky. No drugs were found.

Loyd hit a three-pointer and then converted a three-point play before Stewart made a layup to make it 34-26, and the Storm led the rest of the way.

New York’s Kia Nurse left the game early in the second quarter because of an ankle injury and did not return.

Mystics 101, Fever 76: Myisha Hines-Allen scored a career-high 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and defending champion Washington beat Indiana.

Hines-Allen, who came into the game with seven career three-pointers made, hit three of four from behind the arc.

The Mystics are missing reigning most valuable player Elena Delle Donne, who is rehabilitating a back injury, and newly acquired center Tina Charles, who was medically excused for the season. Washington is also without Natasha Cloud, who is focusing on social justice causes this season, and LaToya Sanders.

The Mystics didn’t miss a beat against their former assistant coach Marianne Stanley, who took over the Fever this year. She was presented her championship ring before the game by the Mystics.

Aerial Powers and Emma Meesseman had 14 points apiece and Shey Peddy and Ariel Atkins each scored 10 for the Mystics.

Kelsey Mitchell hit five threes and finished with 25 points for Indiana. Tiffany Mitchell scored 15 points and Candice Dupree 13.