LAS VEGAS (AP) — Shekinna Stricklen and Diamond DeShields made the most of their first All-Star appearances.
Stricklen won the 3-point contest while DeShields took the skills contest on Friday night at the WNBA All-Star festivities. It was the first time that the league held the two competitions a night before the game.
The Connecticut Sun forward scored 23 points in the final round of the 3-point contest to edge hometown favorite Kayla McBride by a point. It was the second straight year that McBride lost in the final, much to the disappointment of the large crowd that came to the event.
Stricklen put up 21 points in the opening round and she didn’t think that would be enough to advance.
“I was thinking I need at least 25-27, not going to lie,” Stricklen said. “Still in shock about the first round. ... Thought Allie (Quigley) was going to get a lot more.”
Two-time defending champion Allie Quigley only scored 19 points in the first round and didn’t make the final. The Chicago’s guard had many of her Sky teammates in the stands cheering for her.
Stricklen thought she would need an even better round in the finals against McBride, who had 22 points in the first round.
“I mean she’s in her hometown and got the crowd, thought she was going to get hot,” Stricklen said.
Other competitors in the 3-point contest were Kia Nurse, Erica Wheeler and Chelsea Gray.
DeShields had to come from behind to edge Jonquel Jones in the final round to win the skills contest. That three-round event featured two players competing simultaneously on identical obstacle courses that test ball handling, passing, agility and 3-point shooting skills. In the final, DeShields’ first pass attempt missed, but she quickly made the second one. She finished the course in the final round in 23.4 seconds when her 3-pointer went in.
“I knew I got behind in the passing, get the balls out quick and knew that if she missed her first 3-point attempt I’d make mine,” DeShields said. “That’s what happened.”
Jones had advanced to the final by coming from behind to beat Napheesa Collier in the opening round. The Connecticut Sun forward hit a 3-pointer from a few feet behind the line, holding her follow through as she knew it was in. She then topped DeShields’ teammate Courtney Vandersloot in the semifinals.
DeShields topped Odyssey Sims in the opening round and Elizabeth Williams in the semifinals. The highlight of the contest from the first round was Phoenix’s Brittney Griner dunking her layup that drew the crowd to its feet. Griner said earlier in the day she would love if they added a dunk contest to the Friday night activities.
Stricklen, who was just competing in the Friday night festivities, won $10,000 for her charity Room 29:11. It’s an organization that helps foster care homes that provide for kids in need. DeShields won $10,000 for Hoops20-Waterboys. It’s a charity that builds water wells in Africa.