Team USA and Team WNBA put on a spectacular performance at the 2021 WNBA All-Star Game – but it was the women in orange who came out on top.
In honor of the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games, the WNBA took a new approach to the 2021 All-Star Game, having the U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team face off against a team of non-Olympic WNBA All-Stars. (Team USA opens Olympic group play in Tokyo on July 27 against Nigeria.)
Team USA was headlined by the 2020 WNBA MVP and Las Vegas Aces star A’ja Wilson, Seattle Storm forward and reigning WNBA Finals MVP Breanna Stewart and the WNBA’s current leading scorer, Tina Charles. At the helm for Team WNBA was former WNBA Most Improved Player Jonquel Jones, Chicago Sky star point guard Courtney Vandersloot and former No. 1 overall pick Candace Parker.
Parker received an even bigger honor earlier in the day.
This year, the Aces had the most All-Star selections with four, followed by the Sky, Storm, Connecticut Sun, Phoenix Mercury with three players each.
Eight first-time All-Stars were featured (Ariel Atkins, Kahleah Copper, Dearica Hamby, Brionna Jones, Betnijah Laney, Arike Ogunbowale, Satou Sabally and Courtney Williams), while Sue Bird set a WNBA record with her 12th All-Star game appearance. Liz Cambage (Australia) joined Jones (Bahamas) and Sabally (Germany) as the three international players who competed in this year’s event.
Hall of Famers and retired superstars Lisa Leslie and Tina Thompson, who made a combined 17 All-Star appearances as players, served as co-head coaches of Team WNBA, while three-time Olympic gold medalist and current South Carolina coach Dawn Staley led Team USA.
It was a spirited affair, with Team WNBA ultimately coming out on top, 93-85.
Here are the top moments from Wednesday’s action.
It was a star-studded event at Michelob Ultra Arena at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
And Phoenix Suns star Chris Paul showed his support all the way from Milwaukee ahead of Wednesday night’s Game 4 of the NBA Finals with this WNBA-inspired look.
Before tipoff, Parker shared some simple, yet effective advice with the first-timers on how best to approach the All-Star Game.
In the first quarter, Team USA jumped to an early eight-point lead, thanks to Brittney Griner, who finished the first with six points.
On the other side, Team WNBA wasn’t letting off the gas. Copper made an impressive driving layup to keep Team USA within arms reach, and Jones – who led Team WNBA with eight points in the first – hit a 25-foot 3-pointer to tie things up at 17. Heading into the second quarter, Team USA led 28-25.
Sylvia Fowles got things going for Team USA in the second quarter with seven points, but Team WNBA made some tough buckets to keep the competition fierce – like this picture-perfect one-handed toss
Team USA led Team WNBA by just one point at the half, 44-43, while Ogunbowale (12 points) and Griner (10 points) lead their teams heading into the second half.
At halftime, Jones, Jewell Loyd, Allie Quigley and Sami Whitcomb competed in the 3-Point Contest. Whitcomb leads the league in 3-pointers this season with 56, while Quigley won back-to-back contests in 2017 and ’18.
In the first round, Jones and Quigley (27 points) knocked out Whitcomb (26 points) and Loyd (18 points) to advance to the second and final heat.
And it was Quigley – for the third year in a row – who won it all in this year’s 3-Point Contest with 26 points over Jones’ 24 points.
As the third quarter began, Team WNBA’s spirit was alive as they looked to start a comeback run.
It was back-and-forth between the two teams, and Ariel Atkins gave Team USA a scoring boost with a 3-pointer as the minutes ticked down.
Chelsea Gray closed things out in the third, making this game-tying layup look easy. Once again, Team USA and WNBA were knotted up at 66 as the final frame approached.
In the fourth quarter, Gray and Jones nailed 3-pointers to keep things close, but it was Ogunbowale who helped Team WNBA pull away from Team USA for the first time in the game with this massive 3-point shot that swung the momentum.
Jones followed that up with a step-back 3-pointer of her own, which made the crowd erupt, and extended Team WNBA’s lead to 89-80.
Despite leading most of the game, Team USA wasn’t able to hold on in the final moments, and the game ended in Team WNBA’s favor, 93-85.
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