The WNBA’s 2019 All-Star weekend came to a close Saturday with a high-powered All-Star game.
Team Wilson, captained by injured Aces forward A’ja Wilson, beat Elena Delle Donne’s squad 129-126 on Saturday in the 2019 WNBA All-Star game.
Indiana Fever guard Erica Wheeler, who is just the fifth undrafted WNBA player to make the All-Star game, dropped 25 points, seven assists and four rebounds. She hit seven threes, six of them in the first half, and came up clutch for Team Wilson down the stretch.
Wheeler dedicated the performance to her late mother in her postgame interview.
The night opened up with a spirited round of All-Star intros backed by a performance from the Cirque du Soleil casts of Mystère and KÀ. The players danced, flexed, posed and put on a show for the Vegas crowd.
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Jonquel Jones got the first points of the game off of a lob pass in traffic delivered by the captain of Team Delle Donne.
Unfortunately for Team Delle Donne, Team Wilson sprinted out of the gates and dropped 75 points in the first half, the most points scored in a half in league history.
Aces center Liz Cambage set the tone early for Team Wilson, bringing the ball up herself and splashing threes. She told ESPN analyst LaChina Robinson that All-Star night was her night to be a point god.
Despite Cambage’s contributions, Wheeler was the biggest catalyst for Team Wilson’s early run. The undrafted Indiana Fever guard scored 18 points in just eight minutes, knocking down six threes.
“I’m just trying to stay hot, hopefully get hotter,” Wheeler said shortly after while riding a court-side bike. “I’m going to keep shooting it.”
Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner also helped Team Wilson’s push with three dunks in the first half, an All-Star game record.
Delle Donne assistant coach Eric Thibault, who was frequently on his phone during the game despite league rules, made note of his squad’s lackadaisical defense on Twitter, citing a lack of preparation.
Sensing control of the game slipping from the hands Team Delle Donne’s coaching staff, Mystics guard Kristi Toliver, who is also assistant for the Washington Wizards, drew up a play for team Delle Donne midway through the 2nd down.
Unfortunately, Toliver’s leadership could not stem the tide of Team Wilson’s onslaught.
The first half also saw the league’s first live substitution, a rule introduced for the first time this year, courtesy of swap from Delle Donne to Chicago Sky point guard Courtney Vandersloot
In the second half Team Delle Donne came out playing much better basketball following a halftime performance from Teyana Taylor. Mercury forward DeWanna Bonner hit a pair of deep triples to help Team Delle Donne build momentum to close out the third quarter.
Sky guard Allie Quigley helped fend off Team Wilson’s comeback, and scored a number of her points at the expense of her wife and teammate, Vandersloot.
The pair have reportedly worked past the issue, per the Chicago Sky Twitter account.
With two minutes left in the game, Team Delle Donne cut the lead to five points after Los Angeles Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike hit a midrange pull-up. Ogwumike led Team Delle Donne in scoring with 22 points.
The Sparks forward would go on to cut the lead to three points a minute and a half later, but Wheeler’s dagger three would end up sealing the game.
Regular season play will recommence on Tuesday, July 30. The Chicago Sky will visit the Connecticut Sun while the Washington Mystics will host the Phoenix Mercury. Later in the night, Dallas Wings will go on the road to the Las Vegas Aces.
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