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Breanna Stewart leads New York to 98-88 win over Los Angeles for 10th victory in last 11 games

NEW YORK (AP) — Breanna Stewart had 33 points, seven assists and six blocks to help the New York Liberty beat the Los Angeles Sparks 98-88 on Saturday.

Sabrina Ionescu added 24 points and Kayla Thornton had 20 for New York (14-3), which has won 10 of its last 11 games, including the first meeting between the teams on Thursday 93-80.

Stewart made sure they'd sweep the two games. She had an incredible first half on both ends of the floor. Stewart scored 24 points and five assists to go along with five blocks. She became the first player in WNBA history to have over 20 points, five assists and five blocks in a half according to the league.

Stewart, who also had three steals, made eight of her 10 shots from the field in the opening 20 minutes.

“We were letting them off the hook a little bit,” Stewart said. “Make sure I demanded the ball in the post.”

Thornton hit a career-high six 3-pointers, including five in the second half.

“Every time it goes up I know it’s going in,” Liberty coach Sandy Brondello said of Thornton. “She’s always going to give us great effort.”

New York trailed 31-23 early in the second quarter before the reigning MVP took over. Stewart outscored the Sparks 19-13 the rest of the period as the Liberty built a 54-44 lead at the half.

The Liberty put the game away in the third quarter and up 20, Stewart had a chase-down block on Stephanie Talbot that drew the crowd to its feet.

“Just not giving up on the play. Whatever happened on the offensive end, we want to make every basket difficult for them," Stewart said.

That matched Stewart’s career-high of six blocks.

Dearica Hamby scored 20 points to lead Los Angeles (4-13).

New York was still missing guard Courtney Vandersloot, who has missed seven games to be with her mom who passed away over the weekend. Vandersloot did return to the team Saturday and was warming up before the game.

“It's been a tough time for her and her family,” Brondello said. “She's back in town, but we're just ramping her up a little bit. ”

The Liberty were also still playing without Nyara Sabally (back) and Betnijah Laney-Hamilton (knee).

Los Angeles has its own injury issues with Cameron Brink out for the season with a torn ACL in her left knee and Azura Stevens still sidelined after having surgery on her left arm. Lexie Brown was also out with an illness and the Sparks signed Queen Egbo to a hardship contract.

Egbo arrived in New York late last night and without any prep time to make her a custom jersey, she wore No. 44 with white tape over the jersey name.

UP NEXT

Sparks: play at Phoenix on Friday night.

Liberty: play at Atlanta on Sunday in the second half of a back to back.

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AP WNBA: https://apnews.com/hub/wnba-basketball

Doug Feinberg, The Associated Press