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Ladies of Liberty stand victorious after record-breaking home opener at Barclays Center


Women’s basketball season is underway, and so far Brooklyn’s home team has been bringing in nothing but wins, including a dub during a home opener they played in front of a sellout crowd at Barclays Center on May 18.

Saturday’s game broke the team’s personal attendance record with 17,735 fans turning up to watch New York Liberty face off against the Indiana Fever. Liberty finished the game 91-80 over the Fever and prolific college all-star Caitlin Clark.

Seconds into the first quarter, Sabrina Ionescu put the team on the board with a three. Moments later, Brenna Stewart did the same, putting the team up 8-7. The first quarter continued in a style that resembled a call-and-response chase. For every run the Fever pushed, Liberty immediately responded.

It was your ideal home opener with a packed house, high energy and a win by the NY Liberty.It was your ideal home opener with a packed house, high energy and a win by New York Liberty. Photo by Brandon Todd/New York Liberty

“Whenever they make a tough shot, it’s not dwelling on it and going to get our own bucket,” Stewart told Brooklyn Paper after the game. “That’s the difference: when they made a run, we made ours too. That’s the competitiveness of the WNBA.”

Families clad in sea-foam green and black Liberty jerseys were lined up outside the Downtown Brooklyn arena hours before the game started — including a number of young basketball-heads.

One dad admitted he wasn’t much of a basketball fan until his daughter started watching. Now, he said he’s grateful that the two can attend games together. 

“We’re super excited. We’re ready to support the WNBA,” the man named Michael said, adding that the sport is a “great outlet” for his daughter.

Other attendees boasted about being season ticket holders and couldn’t wait to watch the girls play.

Before tip-off, power-forward Jonquel Jones, welcomed Brooklyn fans back to the court with a smile. The crowd went crazy with shouts and celebratory claps. That high energy continued throughout every play as fans shouted players’ names and danced along with Liberty’s iconic mascot, Ellie the Elephant. 

Jonquel Jones, Liberty power forward, welcomed Brooklynites back to the arena before tip-off. This is Jones' second season with Liberty after a requested trade from the Connecticut Sun.Jonquel Jones, Liberty power forward, welcomed Brooklynites back to the arena before tip-off. This is Jones’ second season with Liberty after a requested trade from the Connecticut Sun. Photo by Brandon Todd/New York Liberty

With it being the first home game, Sandy Brondello, head coach for the Brooklyn-based team, said she spoke with her players about keeping a level head during such a highly watched game.

“This is our home court. We appreciate the fans. They’re coming out to watch us, and we should take pride in that and in how we perform,” Brondello said. “We want to protect our home court.”

And perform they did.

Sabrina Ionescu shoots her shot against the Indiana Fever. The player told Brooklyn Paper over 30 family members came out to watch her in this season's home debut.Sabrina Ionescu shoots her shot against the Indiana Fever. The player told Brooklyn Paper over 30 family members came out to watch her in this season’s home debut. Photo by Brandon Todd/New York Liberty

Liberty finished the first half being up 20 points. Jones was the only player to finish the game with double digits in points and rebounds, securing her 100th career double-double. Stewart ended the game leading in points (24).

The ladies of Liberty stand victorious after a second win against Indiana Fever.The ladies of Liberty stand victorious after a second win against Indiana Fever. Photo by Brandon Todd/New York Liberty

The WNBA has had some added eyes — and perhaps added pressure — after college athletes like Clark were drafted. In response, viewers are certainly seeing the veterans play with an extra edge this season.

Jones, who shared a heated moment with Fever’s Aliyah Boston during a game on May 16, told Brooklyn Paper that there isn’t any added tension with the new class of players but that there is a level of competition she plans to deliver all season long.

Jones guards Boston during Saturday's game.Jones guards Boston during Saturday’s game. Photo by Brandon Todd/New York Liberty

“It was competitiveness,” she said before the game. “I felt like she was doing some extra stuff after the play and it was just my way to tell her to kind of stop it. That’s all it was.”

Liberty returns to Barclays Center on May 20 to play against the Seattle Storm. The team will aim for another win in what currently stands as a no-loss season.