Brittney Griner set them up at the WNBA All-Star Game. Jewell Loyd knocked them down.
The tandem feasted from inside and out Saturday to lead Team Stewart to a 143-127 win over an Aces-stacked Team Wilson in Las Vegas. Loyd set an All-Star Game scoring record in the process while securing MVP honors.
Griner, playing in her first All-Star Game since missing last season while detained in Russia, scored the first six points for Team Stewart. Loyd then connected on the game’s first 4-pointer to extend Team Stewart’s lead to 10-4 in a sign of things to come. Team Wilson would never retake the lead.
Griner, a center for the Phoenix Mercury, finished with 18 points and a game-high 13 rebounds in her eighth All-Star appearance. Loyd, a Seattle Storm guard and the WNBA’s leading scorer (25.7 ppg), led the scoring effort with an All-Star Game-record 31 points alongside six assists and four rebounds.
Team Stewart kept on the gas with a transition dunk from Griner late in the first quarter to extend its edge to 23-16.
Then the 4-pointers started dropping.
Each side of the court was donned with two circles placed 28 feet from the basket. If a player made a shot with her foot anywhere in the circle, the bucket was worth four points. The teams combined to make nine of them in the first half. Three of them were courtesy of newly crowned 3-point champion Sabrina Ionescu, who scored 15 first-half points off the Team Stewart bench.
But the long-distance spotlight belonged to Loyd on Saturday, who combined to connect on 10 of 21 shots from 3- and 4-point distance.
Team Stewart extended its lead at halftime to 73-63 and entered the fourth quarter with a 110-93 edge. Late in the fourth quarter, the only question remaining was whether Loyd would break the All-Star Game scoring record. She answered it with a 3-pointer with 2:17 remaining to reach 31 points.
Loyd’s mark broke the previous record of 30 held by Maya Moore and Aces guard Kelsey Plum, who reached the mark as the game’s MVP last season. When she was named MVP on Saturday, Loyd was handed a trophy befitting the honor.
Stewart, who drafted the winning team as captain, was happy to take a supporting role on the court. She scored her first bucket in the final minute of the first half and finished with nine points and a game-high nine assists. Ionescu finished with 18 after posting 15 in the first half.
Plum matched her former scoring record with 30 points off the bench for the losing team. She was one of three Aces players on the team drafted by teammate A’ja Wilson playing the home All-Star Game. Wilson finished with 20 points and five rebounds, while Chelsea Gray added five points, six rebounds and seven assists. Indiana rookie and No. 1 overall pick Aliyah Boston tallied six points and a team-high 11 rebounds in her All-Star Game debut.