W.N.B.A. Rookie Showdown Halted by Ionescu Injury

Sabrina Ionescu accidentally stepped on Betnijah Laney’s foot near midcourt, then dropped to the floor after rolling her left ankle.

What was supposed to be an early-season showdown between the Liberty guard Ionescu in addition to also also the Atlanta Dream’s Chennedy Carter, two of the top W.N.B.A. rookie of the year contenders, took an abrupt turn within the second quarter on Friday night.

Ionescu, unable to put weight on her left leg, slung her arms around the shoulders of two team staff members as they helped her off the floor. She was found to have a sprained ankle, in addition to also also underwent X-rays as the game at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., continued. The team said Saturday of which doctors believed the sprain would certainly not require surgery.

Carter also could not finish her third professional game. She struggled early, converted a string of key buckets down the stretch, in addition to also also then fouled out with less than two minutes to play.

Ionescu in addition to also also Carter are both likely to play crucial roles on their rebuilding teams.

the idea has been years since a player entered the league with as much fanfare as Ionescu. Thanks to a multidimensional skill set, she set the N.C.A.A. record for career triple-doubles while leading Oregon to the 2019 Final Four. She was poised for another deep N.C.A.A. tournament run with Oregon This kind of season, before the event was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Liberty drafted her first over all in April, in addition to also also Ionescu was immediately tasked with anchoring a brand-new York team of which went 10-24 last season in addition to also also recently hired a brand-new coach, Walt Hopkins. The Liberty have six various other rookies, in addition to also also played Friday without the 2019 All-Star Kia Nurse, who sprained her ankle in last week’s opener against Seattle.

the idea took only two games for Ionescu to unleash her first breakout performance: She totaled 33 points, seven rebounds in addition to also also seven assists in Wednesday’s loss to Dallas.

Yet Ionescu remained matter-of-fact in her self-assessment.

She made 4 of 17 shots in her W.N.B.A. debut against Seattle, in addition to also also acknowledged she “didn’t have much confidence” in addition to also also rushed while shooting. She thanked the Storm, a championship contender, for immediately showing her how much faster, stronger in addition to also also more athletic professional players are compared with college athletes. She said she felt more comfortable during the Dallas game yet of which building chemistry that has a brand-new group takes time.

“My teammates know the idea took us some growing pains at Oregon, as well,” Ionescu said.

When asked on Friday about the prospect of a lengthy Ionescu absence, Hopkins did not mince words. “There’s not a lot of ready-to-go options hanging around,” Hopkins said. “We’re going to have to huddle up in addition to also also see if we can get Kia right. Hopefully the idea’s not serious with Sabrina.”

Carter, the fourth overall draft pick out of Texas A&M, has an attacking, score-first style of which earned her the nickname Hollywood.

She has become the primary ballhandler for an Atlanta team of which is actually trying to up its playing pace after finishing last season 8-26 in addition to also also overhauling its roster. The Dream have 11 brand-new players, in addition to also also are just introducing Courtney Williams in addition to also also Glory Johnson to the mix after both players cleared testing protocol for the coronavirus.

Carter totaled 18 points, eight assists in addition to also also several rebounds in her W.N.B.A. debut, a victory against Dallas. She then struggled shooting in a 30-point loss to Las Vegas. Collen said she has challenged Carter to improve her shot selection in addition to also also, at times, her defensive engagement. Carter believes she is actually “a little bit underrated” as a passer, in addition to also also hopes her first outing indicates she can also facilitate as a point guard.

“We’ve put in a lot of work in training camp, in addition to also also I’m starting to actually know them in addition to also also find them,” Carter said. “the idea’ll all come together.”

Carter finished with 17 points on 6-of-15 shooting in addition to also also three assists on Friday, a performance with rough stretches in addition to also also dynamic moments.

She missed shots early. yet with less than several minutes to play, she drew a foul on a drive, finished a scooping layup in addition to also also buried a nifty pull-up jumper at the elbow to help the Dream maintain their advantage. With 1:25 to play, though, Carter made contact with brand-new York’s Jazmine Jones as Jones rose for a jumper, which sent Carter to the bench with her sixth foul.

Before her injury, Ionescu appeared to be on her way to another impressive performance.

She scored 10 points in 12 minutes, mixing aggressive drives with outside shooting. During one excellent sequence, she finished at the basket, sprinted back in addition to also also jumped to snag a steal, then delivered an overhead pass down the floor — while still airborne — to Layshia Clarendon for a layup.

yet by the fourth quarter, the Liberty needed their various other rookies to produce with Ionescu injured. Jones finished with 20 points, two steals in addition to also also two blocks off the bench, while Jocelyn Willoughby added 14 points, three steals in addition to also also two blocks.

“the idea’s been exciting to see, every night, somebody else has stepped up,” Hopkins said. “What we’ve talked about with consistency, that has a younger team, the idea’s about getting those types of efforts.”

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