Ionescu wins WNBA 3-point contest over Storm’s Whitcomb, Wings’ Ogunbowale

Jul 14, 2023, 6:15 PM | Updated: 6:22 pm

WNBA Sabrina Ionescu...

Sabrina Ionescu competes in the WNBA All-Star 3-point contest. (Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

(Ellen Schmidt/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu electrified the crowd Friday by scoring a record 37 of a possible 40 points to easily win the 3-point shooting contest at the WNBA All-Star Game.

She beat the Seattle Storm’s Sami Whitcomb and the Dallas Wings’ Arike Ogunbowale in the final. Whitcomb had 24 points and Ogunbowale 11.

“I knew they were going in,” Ionescu said. “I was telling my agents over there, I didn’t even wait for the ball to get through the net. As soon as I shot it, it looked good and I just went down and kept grabbing (basketballs) and was listening to the fans as they were cheering, knowing that they went in. So they were my validation.”

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 put up by the Liberty’s Ionescu and Courtney Vandersloot.

Allie Quigley, who has won a record four 3-point contests, including the past two, is not playing this season. Her absence cleared the way for someone else to step up.

That player was Ionescu, who made both three-point balls and all five two-point money balls. She made 20 in a row at one point and missed only two shots overall to beat the record that Quigley — who watched in person Friday — set last season with 30 points. It also bested Stephen Curry’s NBA record of 31 points set in 2021.

“Shouldn’t have missed two,” Ionescu said. “It was the final round. I had just lost in the skills. I wasn’t going to lose again. So thankful to have only missed two, I guess.”

Whitcomb (28 points), and Ionescu (26) and Ogunbowale (21) advanced to the final.

The Connecticut Sun’s DiJonai Carrington (18), the Indiana Fever’s Kelsey Mitchell (15) and the Aces’ Jackie Young (15) failed to advance out of the first round.

The WNBA changed the skills format this year, switching to a two-player team event. Four teams were represented, going through an obstacle course that tests all the skills required in a regular game — agility, passing, dribbling and shooting.

Last year, a WNBA player teamed 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 a North Carolina State signee.

The Aces (45.9 seconds) and Liberty (47.8) advanced out of the first round, eliminating the Dallas Wings’ team of Ogunbowale and Satou Sabally (52.6) and the Atlanta Dream’s team of Allisha Gray and Cheyenne Parker (58.7).

Then the Aces won, with Gray finishing strong after Plum first went through the course.

“I didn’t look that skilled out there,” Plum said. “But, no, it’s really cool to be here in Vegas, to do it in front of our fans and family and friends.”

Wednesday in the WNBA: Gray scores 19 as Dream beat Storm 85-75

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