The Breanna Stewart era has arrived in New York. The star forward scored a whopping 45 points and added 12 rebounds and 3 assists as the team beat the Indiana Fever 90-73 in the Liberty's home opener.
Stewart scored the career-high 45 points in just three quarters, setting a franchise record for the Liberty. The performance also made her the first player in WNBA history to score 40-plus points in her home debut with a franchise.
She shot 15-for-21 from the field, hitting six 3s. She joins Liz Cambage as the only WNBA players to score 40 points on at least 70% shooting from the field. Her performance also marked just the fifth 45-point double-double in league history.
— WNBA (@WNBA) May 21, 2023
Stewart was the top free agent this offseason after spending her entire career with the Seattle Storm. Her addition came as the Liberty quickly gained super-team recognition, adding Jonquel Jones and Courtney Vandersloot to a roster that already featured young stars in Sabrina Ionescu and Betnijah Laney.
The highly anticipated team fell short in its season debut, falling to the Washington Mystics 80-64 in a showing that illustrated a lack of team chemistry.
Stewart relished in the redemption during an on-court interview after the game on Sunday.
"Feels like I made the right decision," she said when she was asked how it felt to perform in her home state; she is from Syracuse, New York.
While Stewart had half of the team's points Sunday, she had some assistance from the Liberty's star-studded roster. Newcomer Vandersloot had 11 points and 8 assists. Returning All-Star Ionescu recorded 9 points and 8 assists. Jones, the 2021 MVP, notched 14 points, shooting 6-of-10 from the field.
For Stewart, the performance had a deeper meaning,
"It was really important to play like this in my debut," Stewart said. "Because I want people to be here and I want them to come back, and I want more. I want more of everything. And yeah it sounds selfish, but as a women's basketball player, as a female athlete, we need to continue to get recognized for more in media coverage and fans and eyes and viewership."
"Hopefully I made a few [good] first impressions on some people, and I hope they come back and they come back with more."
Fans can respond to Stewart's call on Saturday afternoon when the Liberty return to Brooklyn and host the Connecticut Sun.