Ionescu shatters WNBA, NBA three-point shooting contest record

Sabrina Ionescu hoists her trophy to cheers. WNBA photo.

New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu broke both the WNBA and NBA three-point shooting contest records Friday by scoring 37 points, and missing just two of 25 buckets to open All-Star weekend.

The third-year standout broke Allie Quigley’s 2022 record of 30 points, and surpassed the 31-point marks of two NBA players. Sami Whitcomb came in second place for the Seattle Storm, with 22 points, and the Dallas Wings’ Arike Ogunbowale scored 11 points.

Ionescu missed her first shot, and then reeled off 20 straight before missing her second bucket. With every make, the Las Vegas crowd cheered louder and louder. The competitive Ionescu said she could tell her shots were going in before the ball reached the net.

“There was adrenaline,” she said. “It was the final round. I had just lost in the Skills (Challenge), and I wasn’t going to lose again.”

Quigley’s wife Courtney Vandersloot is Ionescu’s teammate, and she advised her to practice shooting from the ball rack to get in the flow of the competition. The strategy worked.

“It’s different doing it from a rack,” Ionescu said. “It’s good to understand where I want the rack to be, and the rhythm of the shooting.”

Her shooting from behind the arc is at 44 percent this season – up 11 percent. Ionescu said that is not only a product of finally being healthy, but her diligent practice.

“I believe in my shot because of the work I’ve put in,” she said. “Right now I’m shooting 44, which is a great percentage for me. I’m finding ways to use my three-point threat to help the team.”

“I’ve put in a lot of work to be able to shoot from the three-point line, so this is really rewarding.”

Quigley, who is sitting out this season, won the three-point shooting contest four times. After she watched Ionescu break her record live, she tweeted: “UNBELIEVABLE! This record won’t ever be broken.”

Ionescu said Quigley is someone she’s looked up to.

“To know I’ve beaten her record is an honor, because this should be named after her,” Ionescu said, acknowledging the trophy sitting next to her. “I’m super-grateful that she was here and I got to give her a hug.”

Kelsey Plum and Chelsea Gray won the Skills Challenge for the Aces. WNBA photo.

Prior to the contest, Ionescu and Vandersloot lost the Skills Challenge to Aces guards Chelsea Gray and and Kelsey Plum. The Las Vegas duo brought the comedic antics they had shown on court into the post-game press conference.

“We didn’t prepare at all,” Plum said with a laugh.

The WNBA All-Star game tips off tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. on ABC.