Professional Basketball

Quigley, Moore Take All-Star Honors

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MINNEAPOLIS – The 2018 WNBA All-Star Game got off to an awkward start on Saturday right from the opening tip. Team Parker guard Chelsea Gray grabbed the opening tip and began driving to the basket while forward Candace Parker, the team captain, stayed at the half court logo. Center Liz Cambage cut from the free throw line back across the timeline towards the opponent’s basket following Team Delle Donne guard Diana Taurasi who went to cover Parker, before referee Janetta Graham pointed out the proper direction. Cambage drove to the net but was stripped by forward and team captain Elena Delle Donne.

164 – Team Parker center Liz Cambage and Team Delle Donne center Sylvia Fowles tip off the 2018 WNBA All-Star Game held Saturday at Target Center. Photo by Abe Booker III/Sports Page Magazine

Delle Donne passed the outlet to guard Sue Bird, who threw it cross court to forward Breanna Stewart, who, in turn, handed it off to Taurasi who shot an open three pointer for the game’s first score.

Despite the laughter stemming from the confusion that opened the contest, 15,922 were on hand at Target Center to witness Team Parker defeat Team Delle Donne by a 119-112 score featuring 22 of the WNBA’s most prominent athletes.

Considering this is the All-Star game, the final score didn’t matter. Neither team played defense, which is typical of these contests, but fancy passes, ornate shots and an elegant dunk kept the crowd filled with “oooh’s” and “ahhhh’s” all afternoon. In fact, there were only two free throws shot during the entire game, both misses by Parker, and both teams combined for only three fouls. Such is life in the All-Star game.

Kristi Toliver from Team Delle Donne led all scorers with 23 points including seven three-pointers, while A’ja Wilson, the game’s only rookie, scored 18 points and grabbed five rebounds in her inaugural effort.

Team Parker was led by Maya Moore’s 18 points. She also added eight rebounds and six assist. Through the effort, Moore was named most valuable player. It was the third consecutive All-Star game in which she took home the MVP hardware.

Besides the outcome of the game, there were several other things worth noting.

Cambage as Point Guard

Dallas Wings center Liz Cambage, playing for Team Parker, spent time bringing the ball up the floor in a point guard role. She also attempted four three-point shots and connected on one.

Team Delle Donne guard Seimone Augustus drives against Team Parker guard Jewell Loyd the 2018 WNBA All-Star Game held Saturday at Target Center. Photo by Abe Booker III/Sports Page Magazine

“I think both of us are for positionless basketball, but at some point, it’s like, all right – I told her in the fourth quarter, ‘Liz, you can shoot threes, I get it. But right now we need a layup, and she produced,” said Parker, the team captain.

Delle Donne remarked, “I was hoping she’d come out and played point the rest of the fourth, give us a little room to make a bigger run. But I guess you kind of cut the positionless basketball for a second–”

“Get out there and make a basket,” Parker interrupted.

Cambage’s Dallas teammate, Skylar Diggins-Smith enjoyed watching the center’s point guard action.

“I think that was just a little fun. I think she’s great and all, but when we get back to Dallas, I’m going to take over some of those responsibilities. She’s awesome. I loved that dunk there at the end. It was the exclamation point. She can play above the rim so easily.”

Quigley Defends Three-Point Contest Title

The three point contest at halftime featured six WNBA players – Seattle Storm’s Jewell Loyd; Las Vegas Aces’ Kayla McBride; Indiana Fever’s Kelsey Mitchell; Atlanta Dream’s Renee Montgomery; Washington Mystics’ Kristi Toliver; and Chicago Sky’s Allie Quigley – who had to shoot up to 25 balls from beyond the arc in one minute or less, from five different positions. Each regular ball counted as one point, with nine “money balls” counting for two points each. After the first round, the players with the top two scores competed in a championship round. The prize is a $10,000 donation to the charity of the winner’s choice.

Chicago Sky guard Allie Quigley shoots a money ball during the tiebreaking round of the three point shooting competition held at halftime of the 2018 WNBA All-Star Game Saturday at Target Center. Photo by Abe Booker III/Sports Page Magazine

Montgomery set the pace as the first contestant, finishing with a score of 18 having connected on 10 regular balls and four money balls.

Mitchell started slow by missing her first six shots, but got in the groove by connecting on her next eight. She finished with 16 points with 10 regular balls and three money balls.

Prior to McBride’s round, Connecticut Sun forward Chiney Ogwumike called her a “walking McBucket” for her three-point accuracy. McBride showed it by taking the lead with 22 points. After having missed her first four shots, she answered by hitting six shots in a row and connected on eight regular shots and seven money balls. Her score eliminated Mitchell from the championship round.

Loyd struggled early in her round but found her stride late enough to notch a score of 19. She hit 11 regular shots and four money balls, the final shot being a money ball to edge out Montgomery by one point.

Toliver had a strong showing with 20 points, which put her into second place, eliminating Loyd. However, Quigley shot a perfect five-for-five from her money rack on the right wing which propelled her to a second place score of 21, eliminating Toliver and forcing a championship showdown with McBride.

It was Quigley, the defending champion, who got the finals started without any rest in between rounds. She hit eight regular shots and five money balls for a score of 18. McBride hit four-of-five with her money ball rack to give her a strong showing. Quigley sat on the bench with a

concerned look and stood up when McBride went to the final rack with a three point deficit. She made up one point on the third shot, and then hit the money ball to force a shoot off tiebreaker.

Now it was McBride’s turn to sweat as Quigley started on fire. She was perfect from her money ball rack and missed only five regular shots and hit all of her money balls setting a decisive statement with 29 points, which broke the record of 28 that she set a year ago.

McBride was able to hang with Quigley through the first three racks, including the money rack, but had already racked up five misses, meaning that her final two racks needed to be perfect. She finished with 21 points making Quigley the champion again with a $10,000 check to the Patrick Quigley Memorial Scholarship Fund.

“It was so exciting to be able to do it again,” said Quigley. “It was a little bit more interesting than I thought it was going to be with the tiebreaker, but with so many good shooters in that group, I’m just really happy that I was able to get in the zone there and win it.”

“I was just like, it’s go time, now or never. You’ve just got to be relaxed and confident and kind of hope they go in. And the crowd, I kind of fed off the crowd and Team Parker. They helped a lot,” she said.

She received a bit of ribbing from Cambage.

“Get in the zone, girl. I’m getting you as my trainer for real. I want to be able to splash a three like this one. She is amazing,” said Cambage. “But yeah, we need some big girls in the three-point contest, even if it’s guards go first and bigs go second. Me and BG [Brittney Griner] were saying that while they were shooting because we were bitter. We felt left out today. But yeah, let’s get the big girls in there.”

“Or a dunk contest,” retorted Quigley.

Cambage snapped back, “I’m getting old now. I’m not early 20s no more. It took a lot for me. I want to pull up and shoot the three, but Candace [Parker] told me to go dunk it, so…” Cambage scored the only dunk of the game and attempted four three-pointers.

The three-point contest ended up being the highlight for Quigley’s team captain.

“I mean, how do you follow the three-point contest? I think that for me – I know it wasn’t during the game, but at halftime we had some of the best shooters in the world competing. I mean to have to make 21 to even get into the top two, to then have a shoot-off, to then have Allie hit 29 – it has got to be a record,” said Parker.

After the contest, and in response to Ogwumike’s on-air remark about McBride, a WNBA fan changed Quigley’s name on her Wikipedia entry to “Allie McBucket Slayer Quigley.” It has since been changed back.

Moore Three-Peats as MVP

With 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists for Team Parker, Minnesota Lynx forward Maya Moore was named the All-Star MVP for the third consecutive time.

Minnesota Lynx forward Maya Moore, representing Team Parker, holds up her WNBA All-Star Game MVP trophy following the 2018 WNBA All-Star Game held Saturday at Target Center. Photo by Abe Booker III/Sports Page Magazine

When Moore received her award, she said, “Well, first of all, I was inspired by Allie [Quigley],” and then praised the rest of her teammates.

Quigley, surprised, said, “O…kay.”

Afterwards, Quigley said, “Yeah, I was shocked. I mean, Maya is a proven winner. She’s a legend. For her to say that, that’s just the kind of person she is, the kind of player she is. She wins an MVP and she’s talking about the rest of her team and how amazing the fans are, so she’s just a class act and great for our league.”

Moore insists that her praise was genuine.

“I’m a basketball fan. I’m a fan of greatness. I think anybody who knows anything about basketball is its great shooters. That’s kind of one of the first things you think about, people

who can shoot the ball, and Allie is one of those players,” said Moore. “Candace and I and Chelsea [Gray], we were just watching her and just commenting like, just look at her, just her form, just how efficient she is with her shot. It just seems to float off of her hand into the rim.

Candace was like, look at the way she just adjusted when she was just a little bit off, and I was commenting on the depth of her shot. Like we were just admiring one of the great players in our game.”

Parker and Delle Donne were jokingly asked if they were both glad that Moore finally gets to take a trophy home. Moore’s Lynx team defeated both Delle Donne’s Mystics and Parker’s Sparks during last year’s playoffs.

“No comment,” Delle Donne snapped before laughing.

Parker rolled her eyes.

“I know, right? How do you answer that?” asked Parker who chuckled. “First of all, I want to make it home. I’m in Minnesota, so I want to make it home. Second of all, yeah, add it to the stash.”

The conversation soon turned towards Moore’s storage area. Since entering the WNBA, she has won four WNBA championships (2011, 2013, 2015, 2017), WNBA Rookie of the Year (2011), WNBA MVP (2014), Three All-Star MVPs (2015, 2017, 2018) and two Olympic gold medals. This does not include numerous other awards from the WNBA and overseas professional play, collegiate athletics at the University of Connecticut or during high school.

“This is the second time someone has asked me that in the last ten minutes. Thank you for your concern for my storage space,” Moore laughed. “No, it’s crazy. It really is. To just be fortunate enough to be in positions to continue to win, to be playing well, to be healthy, to be here, and

obviously to do it here in front of our home fans, friends, family is so special and makes it even more special. But I will get back to you with the storage space answer.”

Minnesota Nice

Opponents of the Minnesota Lynx all claim that Minnesota is a tough place to play because of their fans. Having now played in an All-Star Game where the color of one’s jersey didn’t matter, some of the players sounded off about their experience over the weekend.

When asked about Minnesota not being one of the most friendliest atmospheres to play in, Candace Parker shook her head and jokingly quipped, “No, I don’t know anything about that. No, I mean, a Minnesota fan high-fived me, and I was like, ‘Whoa, this is the All-Star Game.’”

“No, I mean, it’s great,” she smiled. “You saw the crowd. Their support for their team, and that’s the main thing in the WNBA, when we have fans, even if they’re against you, they rally behind their team. I respect it, so it was fun. It was a great All-Star Game. They did a great job putting it on.”

Three-point champion Allie Quigley said, “Minnesota does it big even for their regular season games, so we knew bringing the All-Star Game here, it was going to be nothing less. They definitely packed the house, and you can tell they love women’s basketball, they love the WNBA, and we appreciate that support because without them we can’t be here. We’re really happy that Minnesota was able to put on a great show.”

Las Vegas Aces forward A’ja Wilson remarked, “It was great. They packed the house. We love our fans, especially here in Minnesota, this is where they hold all the championships and I would expect nothing less for them to come out and show out how they did. It’s a lot of fun. I’m glad I got the opportunity to come out here. I’m here when we play during the regular-season but I never get a chance to really get involved, so the opportunity to help the community with the Jr. NBA Clinic was a lot of fun.”

2019 WNBA All-Star Game Announced

The WNBA announced that the 2019 WNBA All-Star Game will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday July 27, 2019 with the Las Vegas Aces hosting.

“The WNBA is excited to bring WNBA All-Star 2019 to the Entertainment Capital of the World for the first time,” said WNBA President Lisa Borders in the league’s official release. “Las Vegas fans have enthusiastically supported the Aces in their first season and will now have the chance to see the best players in the world compete on the same court next summer.”

“The MGM and Aces families are excited to host the WNBA All-Star Game next season,” said Las Vegas Aces President of Basketball Operations and Head Coach Bill Laimbeer. “In Las Vegas, putting on a show is what we do and next summer will be no different. We expect to provide the WNBA players and fans with an experience like nothing they have seen before.”

“The All-Star Game has always been the ultimate celebration of the best that the WNBA has to offer,” said MGM Resorts International Corporate Vice President of Marketing-Entertainment and Sports Lance Evans. “The Minnesota Lynx and their staff certainly set the bar extremely high this weekend. Bringing the game to the Entertainment Capital of the World is a natural next step in the game’s evolution, and we expect to raise that bar to make WNBA All-Star Weekend one of the premier basketball events in the world.”

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