Liberty’s Breanna Stewart sets WNBA single-season points record

New York Liberty star Breanna Stewart broke the WNBA record for points in a single season Tuesday, reaching 861 in a game against the Dallas Wings. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Phoenix Mercury legend Diana Taurasi set the previous record of 860 in 2006, when the regular season was 34 games. The schedule expanded to 40 games this season and Tuesday’s contest was the Liberty’s 38th.
  • The 2018 MVP put up a 40-point/10-rebound double-double in the 94-93 win over the Wings, bringing her single-season record to 885 with two games to play.
  • Stewart, 29, was second in the league this year with an average of 22.8 points per game entering Tuesday.

The Athletic’s instant analysis:

Stewart sets multiple records at once

On the night that Stewart set the record for most points in the regular season, the Liberty MVP candidate also extended her record of most 40-point games in a single season with four. Furthermore, she posted her third game with at least 40 points and 10 rebounds, another league record (per Across the Timeline).

Earlier this season, Stewart set a franchise record for points in a game with 45, as her first year in New York becomes more and more decorated. — Merchant

Stewart might not hold the record for much longer

Seattle Storm guard Jewell Loyd woke up today as the league’s leading scorer by a margin of seven points only to see her former teammate pass her and Taurasi’s 2006 mark in one fell swoop. Nevertheless, when Loyd suits up against the Atlanta Dream on Wednesday, she can set the regular-season record if she scores 34 or more points. Loyd’s Storm have three more games while the Liberty play twice more, so Stewart will have to continue to hold off the 2023 All-Star MVP.

A’ja Wilson also started the day one point ahead of Stewart, but considering the Las Vegas Aces only have two games left, it might be too much to ask the reigning MVP to make up a 39-point deficit in that time period. — Merchant

Taurasi’s per-game average remains the standard

Stewart is in the midst of the highest-scoring season of her career. She has been a machine since entering the league in 2016, when she averaged 18.3 points per game. She hasn’t dipped below 19.7 since, peaking at 23.3 this year. However, that still falls short of the 25.3 points Taurasi averaged during her record-breaking campaign in 2006, when the WNBA season was 34 games compared to 40 this year.

From a career perspective, Taurasi should still have an eye on Stewart. The WNBA’s all-time leading scorer passed the 10,000-point mark earlier this year, and given that the league will have longer seasons going forward, Stewart has the best chance of anyone to be the next player to reach that threshold. Through her first seven seasons, she actually has a higher scoring average (20.8) than Taurasi had (20.7), albeit just barely. Still, to even be in the company of Taurasi is a remarkable achievement. — Merchant

What Stewart said

“I have this back-and-forth feeling with the scoring record, because anytime I’m in the same limelight as D, it’s amazing because (of) what she’s done in her career and what she continues to do,” Stewart said after Tuesday’s game. “But obviously it’s more games. So more games is more points.”

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(Photo: Wendell Cruz / USA Today)

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