Aces guard Kayla McBride won the crowd Friday at Mandalay Bay Events Center.
But Connecticut Sun forward Shekinna Stricklen won the WNBA 3-point contest.
McBride advanced from the field of six shooters into the final with a score of 22 in the first round. She followed with another 22 in the final round and lost to Stricklen by one.
Stricklen said her goal was to score 25 to 27 points, but she made enough to edge McBride, who received ovation after ovation from the hometown crowd.
“I’m still in shock from the first round,” Stricklen said. “(McBride) is in her hometown. She’s got the crowd. I really had a feeling she was going to get hot.”
The 3-point contest capped the return of the WNBA’s All-Star Friday night, which hadn’t been conducted in full since 2006. The league had held the 3-point contest at halftime of the All-Star Game, but coupled the contest this year with a skills challenge and aired both as a standalone special on ESPN.
Spectators packed the lower bowl well before the 4 p.m. start, providing a legitimate All-Star feel contrary to that in years past.
“The energy was amazing,” skills champion Diamond DeShields of the Chicago Sky said. “Shout-out to all the people here with the Aces and the league who put this event on. … We’re trying to do everything we could to make it fun for the fans, and I think that they enjoyed themselves.”
DeShields opened the event by beating Connecticut forward Jonquel Jones in the skills challenge final, claiming championship honors from a field of eight. The competitors were matched up in a bracket, and DeShields first beat Minnesota Lynx guard Odyssey Sims and Atlanta Dream center Elizabeth Williams to advance against Jones, who defeated Lynx forward Napheesa Collier and Sky guard Courtney Vandersloot.
DeShields fell behind early in the final, which required participants to dribble through an obstacle course, complete a pass into a target, make a layup and finish with a 3-pointer. But Jones missed her 3-point attempt and DeShields hit hers to clinch the title.
“I knew that if she missed her first 3-point attempt that I was going to make mine,” DeShields said.
McBride opened the 3-point contest a few minutes later by scoring 22 of a possible 34 points. Stricklen scored 21 in the first round to edge Sky guard Allie Quigley, the two-time defending champion, who scored 19.
Stricklen opened the final by making her 23, and McBride fell short after missing a crucial attempt in the corner.
Both champions received $10,000 toward charities of their choice.
They, too, are enjoying their experience in Las Vegas.
“It’s always a favorite spot I know for us to come visit,” DeShields said. “Hopefully we can continue to push the envelope and make this a common trend throughout the entire league. Here they treat everybody very nicely. It’s a great place to have a franchise.”
All-Star Friday night
3-point contest results
1. Shekinna Stricklen (Connecticut) — 23 in the final, 21 in the first round
2. Kayla McBride (Aces) — 22 in the final, 22 in the first round
3. Allie Quigley (Chicago) — 19
4. Kia Nurse (New York) — 14
5. Erica Wheeler (Indiana) — 12
6. Chelsea Gray (Los Angeles) — 8
Skills challenge results
Courtney Vandersloot (Chicago) def. Sami Whitcomb (Seattle)
Jonquel Jones (Connecticut) def. Napheesa Collier (Minnesota)
Diamond DeShields (Chicago) def. Odyssey Sims (Minnesota)
Elizabeth Williams (Atlanta) def. Brittney Griner (Phoenix)
Jones def. Vandersloot
DeShields def. Williams
DeShields def. Jones