Chicago is playing host to WNBA All-Star Weekend for the first time ever, and this year marked the return of All-Star Saturday, which featured the Skills Challenge and the 3-Point Contest. The events did not disappoint, as Sabrina Ionescu won the Skills Challenge and Allie Quigley made history with her fourth 3-Point Contest title.
Ionescu cruises to Skills Challenge title
Sabrina Ionescu is putting together a historic season, and on Sunday will play in the All-Star Game for the first time in her career. But first, she was a participant in the Skills Challenge on All-Star Saturday, and cruised to the title along with her teammate, Zoe Brooks, who is committed to NC State.
This year, each WNBA participant was paired with a high school player from the Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) participating in the 2022 Nike Nationals, which are also taking place in Chicago. Each team went through an obstacle course that tested various skills including ball-handling, passing and shooting, and were pitted against each other in a three-round, bracket-style format.
Ionescu faced a slight bit of adversity in the first round when Chicago Sky big Azura Stevens knocked the ball away from her after the layup portion of the course. She bounced back, however, and made the 3-pointer first to advance to the semi-finals. She cruised through that round, knocking out Las Vegas Aces guard Kelsey Plum with ease.
Then, it was time for the finals, where she was matched up against Indiana Fever rookie NaLyssa Smith. The No. 2 overall pick made a surprise run through the event, upsetting hometown favorite Courtney Vandersloot of the Sky in the first round and reigning MVP Jonquel Jones of the Connecticut Sun in the semis. Her progress would end there, though, as Ionescu showed why she’s one of the best point guards in the league.
“I had a great partner, which helped,” Ionescu said. “I told myself I wasn’t gonna get too competitive, but I got really competitive. I’m happy we won.”
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Quigley makes history with fourth 3-Point title
The 3-Point Contest was back for a fifth straight year and pitted the league’s best shooters against each other in a timed competition. As expected, the reigning champion Allie Quigley of the Chicago Sky defended her title and made history in the process. Her 30 points were a record for the contest, and she is now the only player in WNBA or NBA history to win the 3-Point Contest four times.
As always, there were five racks with five balls each spaced out around the arc. Four of the racks contained four regular balls worth one point and one “money ball” worth two points. One of the racks was the “money ball rack” and contained five “money balls” worth two points. In addition, there were two “DEW ZONE” locations well beyond the 3-point line. Each one contained one special “DEW ZONE ball” worth three points.
The first round was quite competitive, as Washington Mystics guard Ariel Atkins went first and set the tone with 24 points. No. 1 overall pick Rhyne Howard of the Atlanta Dream matched that with 24 of her own. Each of them booked a ticket to the final round, along with the reigning champion Allie Quigley of the Chicago Sky, who made every shot on her money ball rack to put up 26 points.
In the final round, Atkins closed strong by hitting every shot on her final rack to put up 21 points. That was not enough, though, as Quigley put on an absolute show to win the trophy. She hit both of the DEW ZONE shots and went 3 of 5 from the “money ball” rack to put up 30 points.
“This is for everybody here who was pushing me all summer to do this,” Quigley said. “Just so much support from Chicago. The shooters tonight were unbelievable, they set the bar so high. I’m just so happy to be here and bring this to Chicago.”
During her post-event press conference, Quigley announced she is officially retired from the event.
As for calls from Candace Parker and others to rename the event after her, Quigley was honored: “If they want to do that, I’d be okay with that.”