Maya Moore scored 23 points, reigning league most valuable player Nneka Ogwumike added 22 points and the West outlasted the East 130-121 in the WNBA All-Star Game on Saturday, where most of the attention was on Seattle’s Sue Bird.
The veteran West squad with 55 total All-Star Game selections on its roster, pulled away after a close first half. Moore made 9 of 17 shots, including five three-pointers, while Ogwumike made 11 of 15 attempts off the bench. Bird had a hand in many of those baskets, finishing with a game-record 11 assists and eight points.
Moore was named the game’s MVP for the second consecutive All-Star Game.
The youthful East was led by Jonquel Jones with a game-high 24 points, including a dunk in the final minute. There were eight first-time selections on the East roster.
Layshia Clarendon, Candice Dupree and three-point contest winner Allie Quigley all had 14 points off the bench for the East.
Bird was the focus on the weekend, welcoming the All-Star Game to her adopted hometown for the first time. It was her record-tying 10th All-Star appearance for No. 10, although it was her hope not to have all the attention specifically on her.
Easier said than done. Bird received the loudest ovations as she was introduced, drowning out those that went to Taurasi, Seattle teammate Breanna Stewart and others.
Bird seemed more interested in involving others than trying to take control of the game. Bird regularly bypassing her own shot to provide layup chances for Moore, Ogwumike, Candace Parker and others. Bird should have had one more assists after she dropped a no-look pass to Stewart, who proceeded to blow the wide open layup. Bird looked on in stunned amazement while Stewart sheepishly looked just as surprised.
The competiveness started to emerge late as the East tried to rally from a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit, but Bird’s wide open 3-pointer with 4:05 left to push the West’s lead back to 11. She threw her hands in the air after the make, following an underwhelming performance in the 3-point contest.
The event also saw the return of the three-point contest for the first time in eight years, conducted at halftime. Bird was the sentimental favorite but finished last in the first round with just seven points. Sugar Rodgers electrified the first round making her first eight shots and nine of the first 10 to advance to the finals against Quigley.
But Quigley — second in the WNBA in 3-pointers made per game — was nearly flawless in the finals, making 19 of 25 total shots to finish with 27 points and easily outdistance Rodgers and her 19 points. A $10,000 donation will be made by the league to the Patrick Quigley Memorial Scholarship in honor of her dad.
“It’s awesome that it’s so close to home,” Quigley said of winning. “I know he was there with me and I was trying to shoot for him.”
The event brought out the royalty of Seattle basketball including Hall of Famers Bill Russell and Lenny Wilkens, former Seattle SuperSonics Gus Williams, Fred Brown and Slick Watts and current All-Star Isaiah Thomas. Even Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman was in attendance, wearing a Los Angeles Lakers Magic Johnson jersey.
Russell and Wilkens were given standing ovations during a first quarter timeout.
The attendees also included former WNBA All-Star Penny Taylor and U.S. women’s soccer team star Megan Rapinoe.
Clarendon set the record for assists in an All-Star debut with 10. The 130 points and 58 percent shooting from the field by the West were the most ever in a game. The teams combined for a record 251 points, eclipsing the mark of 148 set in 2009.
The league resumes play after the All-Star break on Tuesday with all 12 teams in action.