LAS VEGAS — The WNBA’s all-star weekend kicked off with these Friday afternoon events: the Skills Challenge and the three-point shootout. The Skills Challenge consists of an obstacle course involving passing, close-ranged shots, dribbling, and three-pointers. This year, it’s been made into a team competition. The three-point shootout involves five racks of basketballs in five spots. Two of them are “Starry” shots that are a bit further than normal and a player can choose one of the five racks to be full of “money balls” (worth two points).
Four teams competed in the Skills Challenge. The two fastest times would make the finals in one last showdown.
Allisha Gray and Cheyenne Parker represented the Atlanta Dream. They finished with 58.7 seconds. With the time set, the Wings (repped by Arike Ogunbowale and Satou Sabally) ended with 52.6 ticks.
The New York Liberty were next and their advantage over the previous two teams was that they both had guards in Courtney Vandersloot and Sabrina Ionescu. They finished at 47.8 seconds. The home team Las Vegas Aces had Kelsey Plum and Chelsea Gray. They edged out the Liberty’s time at 45.9. The Liberty and the Aces would advance to the finals.
The Liberty’s time in the finals wasn’t as impressive as they finished at 58 seconds. And with 13 seconds to spare, the Aces took home the Skills Challenge trophy for this year.
The three-point shootout participiants were as follows:
DiJonai Carrington (CON), Arike Ogunbowale (DAL), Kelsey Mitchell (IND), Sabrina Ionescu (NY), Sami Whitcomb (SEA), and Jackie Young (LV).
Carrington got off to a slow start but made up for it at the end with 18. Arike Ogunbowale had a strong money ball rack to finish with 21. Kelsey Mitchell scored 15.
Sabrina Ionescu hit a very impressive 26. But Sami Whitcomb and her incredible backspin eclipsed that with 28. The hometown favorite Jackie Young got off to a slow start and ended with 15. So it was Arike, Sabrina, and Whitcomb in the Finals.
Arike hit a low 11. And then Sabrina blew away the basketball world with this shooting display:
Sabrina Ionescu (@sabrina_i20) just set the all-time record for NBA or WNBA with a score of 37 PTS in the FINAL ROUND of the #Starry3PT Contest to be crowned the NEW 3-PT CHAMPION 🏆 | @starrylemonlime pic.twitter.com/YcGy3fDfBq— WNBA (@WNBA) July 14, 2023
Sabrina made a scorching 20 shots in a row (including the two “Starry shots”). She only missed two of her 27 shots in that round. So she made 25 for 27 in that round. An amazing .925 percentage! She scored 37 points overall.
It’s not that Sami Whitcomb had a bad round at 24 points. But it’s kind of tough to unseat a record-setting round like Sabrina’s. Sabrina easily took the three-point shootout crown.
It was a very exciting Las Vegas Friday afternoon of all-star events. Especially that histroic Sabrina Ionescu three-point round. And we still have the game on Saturday night!