Sabrina Ionescu scores record 37 points to win WNBA 3-point contest

Alexa Philippou, ESPNJul 14, 2023, 06:09 PM 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 New York Liberty’s Sabrina Ionescu broke WNBA and NBA records for most points in a 3-point shooting contest by hitting all but two of her treys in the final round of Friday’s competition, which kicked off 2023 WNBA All-Star weekend.

Ionescu’s 37 out of a possible 40 points surpass the single-round record of 31 in the NBA (done by Stephen Curry in 2021 and Tyrese Haliburton in 2023) and 30 in the WNBA (Allie Quigley in 2022).

Also in the final, the Seattle Storm’s Sami Whitcomb came in second with 22 points, followed by the Dallas Wings’ Arike Ogunbowale with 11. The Connecticut Sun’s DiJonai Carrington (18), Indiana Fever’s Kelsey Mitchell (15) and Las Vegas Aces’ Jackie Young (15) were all eliminated in the first round.

Ionescu’s jaw-dropping onslaught, which featured 20 consecutive makes at one point, evoked awe from the generally pro-Aces crowd, Liberty owners Joe and Clara Wu Tsai, a contingent of 30 family members in the stands and her peers in the league, including four-time 3-point contest winner Quigley, who is taking this season off and tweeted her amazement.

“UNBELIEVABLE!!! This record won’t ever be broken,” Quigley wrote.

Curry also took to Twitter to express his respect for Ionescu’s torrid shooting display, writing, “RIDICULOUS!”

Liberty teammate Courtney Vandersloot, Quigley’s wife, advised Ionescu to practice shooting from a rack heading into the competition, guidance Ionescu took that paid dividends. But even in regular-season play, Ionescu’s 54 treys are second in the league, while her 44.6% clip is fourth-best. Prior to this year, Ionescu hadn’t shot better than 33.3% from beyond the arc in a fully-healthy season.

“Yeah, I knew they were going in,” Ionescu said of the performance, a record in NBA and WNBA 3-point competitions for consecutive conversions. “There’s adrenaline. It was the final round. I had just lost in the Skills [Challenge] and I wasn’t going to lose again.”

The former Oregon star, who is also the collegiate leader in triple-doubles, said that she’ll send the contest’s film to Liberty head coach Sandy Brondello so that she’ll run some more 3-point plays for her once games résumé.

“I’ve put in a lot of work to be able to shoot like I have been from the 3-point line,” Ionescu said. “This one’s pretty rewarding.”

The Aces’ duo of Kelsey Plum and Chelsea Gray took home trophies Friday in the Skills Challenge, beating the Liberty’s duo of Ionescu and Vandersloot in the final. The Atlanta Dream’s Allisha Gray and Cheyenne Parker as well as the Wings’ Ogunbowale and Satou Sabally were eliminated in the first round.

This summer was the first one where the league used a format with teammates teaming up to compete for the prize.

“It was a vibe, it was fun,” Gray said. “The energy was great.”

The 2023 WNBA All-Star Game takes place Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC.

ESPN Stats & Information research was used in this report.

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