July 14, 2023 

Ionescu makes history at 2023 WNBA 3-Point Contest, Team Aces win skills challenge

Sabrina Ionescu made 20 shots in a row to win the 2023 WNBA 3-Point Contest while Team Aces won the Skills Challenge.

LAS VEGAS – The 2023 WNBA 3-Point Contest will be remembered for years to come.

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Sabrina Ionescu won the contest after lighting up Michelob Ultra Arena with a final round score of 37.

The New York Liberty guard made 25 out of her 27 shots, as the crowd, including a large contingent of her family, went wild. After missing her first shot, she proceeded to make 20 in a row. This streak included her money ball rack, where all of the shots are worth two points, and both of the Starry balls, which are worth three points.

“I knew they were going in,” Ionescu said. “… I didn’t even wait for the ball to get through the net. I didn’t even wait for the ball to get through the net. As soon as I shot, it looked good and I just went down and kept grabbing them and was listening to the fans as they were cheering [to] know that they went in. So they were my validation.”

Her score of 37 passed Allie Quigley‘s 2022 final round 30 as the best round score in WNBA 3-point contest history. The score was also higher than any NBA player has ever reached as the single-round record on the men’s side is 31 (Stephen Curry in 2021 and Tyrese Haliburton in 2023).

“I wouldn’t say I’m a better shooter than Steph Curry,” Ionescu said. “Obviously it’s different shooting off a rack but to be included in the names winning this [contest] in the WNBA and also the NBA is very special. I’ve put in a lot of work to be able to shoot like I have been from the 3-point line so this one’s pretty rewarding.”

Las Vegas Aces guard Chelsea Gray was asked about Ionescu’s performance and said she just hopes Ionescu does not catch the kind of fire she did on Friday when the Aces take on the Liberty in future matchups this season.


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Team Aces takes down Team Liberty in the 2023 WNBA Skills Challenge

Much to the delight of the crowd at Michelob Ultra Arena, the revamped WNBA Skills Challenge was won by the hometown Aces squad of Gray and Kelsey Plum.

Team Aces took down a Team Liberty squad of Courtney Vandersloot and Ionescu in the final round with a contest-high time of 44.3 seconds. Gray was the hero with her clutch shooting. Plum missed four shots when it was her turn, slowing Team Aces down and putting pressure on Gray. Gray responded by making all of her shots on the first attempts, even pulling up to take a jump shot to shave off time when she could have opted for a layup.

Gray, the 2022 WNBA Finals Most Valuable Player, was asked why she tends to step up in big moments.

“Just maybe a mentality,” she said. “I don’t know. When I’m in that position, just kind of lock in and just try to get that dub. And we were able to do that with the challenge today.”

As for the event as a whole, it had a bit of an odd feel. Having it at 1 p.m. local time on a Friday in Las Vegas felt strange. The crowd was decent and enthusiastic, especially when Team Aces participated in the skills challenge and Aces guard Jackie Young participated in the 3-point contest. However, it felt like having the event at night or during the day on Saturday would have brought out a larger crowd and made the event feel bigger.

The mascots of the Aces, Phoenix Mercury and Washington Mystics were there to provide an added level of entertainment and many of the 2023 All-Stars, including Brittney Griner, DeWanna Bonner, Ezi Magbegor and Alyssa Thomas, came out to watch the skills challenge and 3-point contest. A highlight was Griner sitting courtside eating a plate of bacon followed by some cotton candy.

The All-Star Game itself will take place on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET, and The Next will continue to provide coverage leading up to, during, and after the game.

Written by Jesse Morrison

Jesse Morrison covers the Phoenix Mercury for The Next. A native of Roanoke, Va., Jesse moved to Arizona in 2017 to attend the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, graduating in 2021 with a degree in sports journalism. Outside of The Next, Jesse works for Arizona Sports, co-hosting an Arizona State podcast, producing a radio show and writing for their website.

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