New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu electrified the crowd Friday by hitting 20 straight shots and scoring a record 37 of a possible 40 points to win the three-point shooting contest at the WNBA All-Star Game. in a performance that will be incredibly hard to match.
She made 25 of 27 shots to break the WNBA and NBA event record, and nearly met her own high standards.
“I shouldn’t have missed two,” Ionescu said. “It was the final round. He had just lost in skills. I was not going to lose again.”
The Las Vegas Aces team of Chelsea Gray and Kelsey Plum won the skills competition with a time of 44.3 seconds in the final round, easily beating the 58.0 of Ionescu and Liberty teammate Courtney Vandersloot.
In the three point contest, Ionescu beat Seattle Storm’s Sami Whitcomb and Dallas Wings’ Arike Ogunbowale in the final. Whitcomb had 24 points and Ogunbowale 11.
“I knew they were going to go in,” Ionescu said. “I was telling my agents there, I didn’t even wait for the ball to go through the net. As soon as I shot, it looked good and I just went down and kept grabbing (basketballs) and I was listening to the fans as they cheered, knowing they went in. So they were my validation.”
Allie Quigley, who has won a record four 3-point contests, including the last two, will not play this season. Her absence cleared the way for someone else to show up.
Ionescu did more than that, surpassing Quigley’s mark of 30 points set last year.
Ionescu also surpassed the Indiana Pacers’ Tyrese Haliburton from earlier this year and Stephen Curry’s NBA record of 31 points set in 2021, and the Golden State Warriors’ star shooter took notice.
“RIDICULOUS!” Curry tweeted at Ionescu.
Ionescu posed for a photo imitating Curry’s famous pose while holding his newly won trophy. She also jokingly challenged him to a “shootout.”
Minnesota Timberwolves forward Karl-Anthony Towns tweeted that it was “the best round we can see in a long time.”
Whitcomb (28 points), Ionescu (26) and Ogunbowale (21) advanced to the final. Connecticut Sun’s DiJonai Carrington (18), Indiana Fever’s Kelsey Mitchell (15) and Aces’ Jackie Young (15) failed to advance out of the first round.
The WNBA changed the skills format this year, moving to a two-player team event. Four teams were represented, going through an obstacle course that tests all the skills required in a normal game: agility, passing, dribbling and shooting.
Last year, a WNBA player teamed up with one from Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League. Ionescu won last year’s contest with Zoe Brooks, this year’s National High School Player of the Year and North Carolina State Signee.
The Aces (45.9 seconds) and Liberty (47.8) advanced out of the first round, taking out the Dallas Wings team of Ogunbowale and Satou Sabally (52.6) and the Atlanta Dream team of Allisha Gray and Cheyenne Parker (58.7).
The Aces then won, with Gray finishing strong after Plum passed first down the field.
“I didn’t look that skilled out there,” Plum said. “But no, it’s great to be here in Las Vegas, to do it in front of our fans, family and friends.”