Jewell Loyd sets WNBA All-Star Game scoring record, wins MVP

Alexa Philippou, ESPNJul 16, 2023, 01:05 AM ET

CloseCovers women’s college basketball and the WNBA
Previously covered UConn and the WNBA Connecticut Sun for the Hartford Courant
Stanford graduate and Baltimore native with further experience at the Dallas Morning News, Seattle Times and Cincinnati Enquirer

LAS VEGAS — The Seattle Storm’s Jewell Loyd set a WNBA All-Star Game scoring record with 31 points, taking home MVP honors and helping Team Stewart roll to a 143-127 victory over Team Wilson on Saturday.

Loyd, who entered the game as the league’s top scorer with 25.7 points per game, scored 31 points, all from beyond the arc, hitting a record 10 3-pointers (including one 4-pointer, a special feature in recent All-Star Games). She said winning the award was her goal and dedicated the performance to her parents, who are celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary Saturday.

“I didn’t have a gift for their anniversary, so I think this will be acceptable,” Loyd said. “I hope it is.”

Loyd’s output helped Team Stewart set an All-Star record, surpassing the 134 points by Team Wilson last year.

The former Notre Dame star and 2015 No. 1 overall pick has taken on an even larger role for the Storm this summer following the departure of Breanna Stewart for the New York Liberty and the retirement of Sue Bird. The Storm sit in last place in the WNBA standings with a 4-16 record.

“I knew that things would be different coming back to Seattle, so I prepared probably the hardest I’ve ever done anything, knowing that I would just need it, physically and mentally,” Loyd said. “But at the same time, I’m just trying to stay as present as possible. I don’t try to think too much ahead or worry about anything I can’t really control and stay 10 toes down.”

Editor’s Picks

2 Related

Notably, Loyd was presented a much larger MVP trophy than the league offered 2022 All-Star Game MVP Kelsey Plum last season, an oversight that drew ridicule from players and fans in the aftermath.

The Las Vegas Aces’ Plum finished with 30 points, tying her total from last summer’s event and becoming the first player to score that many points in multiple All-Star Games. The Minnesota Lynx’s Napheesa Collier and Aces’ A’ja Wilson each finished with 20 points Saturday.

Team Stewart’s victory tied the All-Star Game series versus Team Wilson at 1-1, as Wilson’s squad pulled off the win last summer in Chicago.

“I must say we were working on ball screens yesterday in practice,” Stewart said about the seriousness of her team’s approach. “We were doing a lot.”

More important to the players than the result was the presence of the Phoenix Mercury’s Brittney Griner, who shined with 18 points, including two dunks, and 13 rebounds. Griner, the first pick by Team Stewart, was named an All-Star starter as she has excelled in her first season following a nearly 10-month detainment in Russia.

Last year, players switched into jerseys with Griner’s name and number (42) at halftime of the All-Star Game to honor their peer, who missed the entire WNBA season while in Russian custody. This time, Griner earned a rousing ovation from the Vegas crowd during player intros and showed off her usual playful personality, challenging the Aces’ Chelsea Gray to take her on from the wing by slapping the floor, coming out of the locker room during the halftime show to film Kehlani’s performance with her wife, Cherelle, standing by her side and even eating a snow cone on the bench during the second half.

“I’m just happy to be here in this building,” Griner said. “All-Star is just a fun time we all get to be together. Just being here with them after everything they did to support me through one of the toughest times it just means everything to be right here.”

Added Griner’s Team Stewart teammate and Los Angeles Sparks star Nneka Ogwumike, also the WNBPA president: “It’s always wonderful to have BG on the court. I think anyone can say that they agree with that. BG, one thing about her is that she’s always going to do her. She brings the love, she brings the excitement and she just knows how to make everyone feel special, and that’s something that we wanted to do for her. I’d very much rather play with her than against her, but I’m very happy that I hope she had a really good All-Star as well.”

Source link

Leave a comment