Las Vegas – The WNBA All-Star team sprinted past Team USA in the final quarter of Wednesday’s All-Star game to take down the team, 93-85, ahead of the Olympic Games.
Arike Ogunbowale, who was named MVP of the game, led the way for the winners with 26 points, while Jonquel Jones added 18 points and 14 rebounds, and Courtney Williams scored 15. It was the first time Team USA had lost in pre-Olympic competition since Nov. 2019, when they fell to Oregon.
The match up was a tune up for the Olympians, as the league doesn’t usually hold an All-Star Game during an Olympic year. The unique format pitted Team USA against a squad of All-Stars elected by traditional fan votes.
Brittney Griner led the National Team with 17 points, while Breanna Stewart had 15 and Sylvia Fowles chipped in 12.
Jones said Team WNBA collectively agreed to give their opponents a run for their money.
“Everybody said that we wanted to come in and give them a good game, get them prepared for their push in the Olympics, but also just compete and show that we’re on that level as well,” she said. “That was our plan going in, and we executed very well. I’m proud that we were able to do that.”
Sue Bird, who is headed to her fifth Olympics, said the team is still learning how to work together, and coaches are deciding which player combinations work best together on court.
“This has always been the challenge of USA Basketball,” Bird said. “These things usually take a whole training camp, or months or years, and we always try to do it in a matter of days or weeks. This was just the first step.”
“Congratulations to the WNBA team. They played great, and hopefully it was a good show for everybody.”
All-Star games are usually loose and paced with humor along the way. But members of both squads said they played to win this year.
“It was fun, but your mindset was definitely different from your typical All-Star Game, where it’s all offense and hardly any defense,” Griner said. “We have different things in the front of our mind that we know we’re here to do. We know we’re here to get prepared and have a goal. It’s not your typical ‘have fun and throw up some shots.’ We are here to work. It’s definitely a different feel than a typical All-Star Game.”
At halftime, Allie Quigley beat three others to win the three-point shooting contest for the third time. She promised it would be her last time participating in the shoot out.
Team USA begins pool play Sunday against Nigeria.