Las Vegas, NV –Seattle Storm’s Jewell Loyd set a WNBA All-Star Game scoring record with 31 points, taking home the MVP trophy and helping Team Stewart beat Team Wilson 143-127 on Saturday at Michelob Ultra Arena.
The sold-out crowd at the arena included Dwyane Wade, Anthony Davis, Sue Bird, and Sheryl Swoopes, Saturday’s WNBA All-Star Game which was prime time smash.
Brittney Griner, who was an honorary All-Star last season while being detained in Russia, dunked twice and took a symbolic handoff from the Aces’ A’ja Wilson the Phoenix Mercury will host the 2024 All-Star Game.
Loyd’s scoring output helped Team Stewart set an All-Star record, surpassing the 134 points by Team Wilson last year.
No. 1 overall pick out of Notre Dame has taken on an even larger role for Seattle this summer following the departure of Breanna Stewart, who went to the New York Liberty and the retirement of all world 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.”
Team Wilson’s Kelsey Plum poured in 30 points and applauded the much bigger MVP trophy the WNBA gave out this year than last, when Plum was the recipient of the award.
“They upgraded,” Plum said. “Whoever was in charge of the trophy either got fired or was very scared of getting fired. But listen, the whole incident with the trophy caused a stir, so I didn’t mind it.
Plum also said she was playing for charity, so that meant even more to her than a trophy. Under Armour offered her $1,000 for every basket made, while Google pledged $1,000 for every assist. So Plum ended up with $16,000 total to give to Child Haven in Las Vegas.
Loyd, who entered the contest as the league’s top scorer with 25.7 points per game, scored all of points from beyond downtown, 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.”
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 custody. This year, Griner earned a blazing ovation from the Vegas crowd during player intros.
“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.”
BG finished the game with 18 points, 13 rebounds and 2 blocked shots.
With Loyd winning MVP award, the drought for true post players winning the honor extends another year. Candace Parker, then with the LA Sparks was the last true post player to be All-Star MVP, in 2013. Since then, the award has gone to a guard or a perimeter player.
The captains were both forwards. Both had stellar games — Wilson finished with 20 points and five boards, Stewart had a game-high nine assists.