Bahamian professional women’s basketball player Jonquel ‘JJ’ Jones cracked open the postseason with a double-double, helping her team, the New York Liberty, get past the Washington Mystics, 90-75, in Game One of their Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) playoff matchup on Friday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
It was the Liberty’s first playoff home win since 2015 as they took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three playoff series.
The Grand Bahamian put on a show for the home fans as she scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the win. She was efficient from the field, going 7-for-12, shooting 58.3 percent in 33 minutes on the floor. It was a strong defensive effort from Jones as she blocked two shots and picked up a steal.
The center was one of two Liberty players to score 20 or more points as Sabrina Ionescu went off from deep when she made a Liberty postseason high seven three-pointers to finish with a game-high 29 points. Most Valuable Player (MVP) candidate Breanna Stewart struggled with 10 points but Jones and Ionescu stepped up their play.
The game got interesting in the second half as it was close. The Liberty led just 46-42 heading into the half. It was a close game early in the second half as the teams traded buckets. After the Mystics came within 50-48 with 6:52 left in the third quarter, Jones made a layup to give the Liberty a 52-48 lead. It was the start of an 8-2 scoring run that gave them their first double-digit lead of the game. Jones sunk two free throws to give the Liberty a 60-50 lead at the 3:27 mark of the third quarter.
quarter ended with Ionescu scoring back-to-back buckets – a three-pointer and a layup to put the Liberty up 69-57 heading into the final quarter.
It was all Liberty in the fourth quarter, as they found ways to keep putting up points to keep the pesky Mystics away. Jones made a layup at the 5:21 mark to put her team up 82-69. Every time the Mystics tried to make the game a single-digit game, the Liberty found a way to keep it in the double-digit area. Jones did just that when she gave the Liberty an 87-75 lead with a 21-foot jump shot at the 1:35 mark of the fourth quarter. The Mystics did not put up any more points on the board as the Liberty took the crucial Game One victory.
The Mystics rattled the Liberty in the first quarter as they took a 29-23 lead at the end of one. It was a different Liberty team in the second quarter as they took the lead with a 23-13 advantage in that quarter to go into the half up 46-42.
The game had seven lead changes and was tied five times, but the Mystics never led in the second half as Liberty turned up their defense. On the topic of defense, Liberty had nine blocked shots and six steals.
The Liberty will look to go for a sweep when they host the Mystics on Tuesday. That game gets underway at 7 p.m. and will be aired live on ESPN. Game Three, if necessary, will be played in Washington.