Jewell Loyd scores a record 31 points to lead Team Stewart past Team Wilson in MVP effort

Jewell Loyd won the title of All-Star Game MVP and a trophy worthy of that honor.  (AP Photo/John Locher)
Jewell Loyd won the title of All-Star Game MVP and a trophy worthy of that honor. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Brittney Griner set them up at the WNBA All-Star Game. Jewell Loyd knocked them down.

The tandem feasted inside and out on Saturday to lead Team Stewart to a 143-127 win over the aces-stacked Wilson Team in Las Vegas. Loyd set an All-Star Game scoring record in the process while earning MVP honors.

Griner, playing in her first All-Star game since she disappeared last season while detained in Russia, scored the first six points for Team Stewart. Loyd then connected the game’s first 4-pointer to extend Team Stewart’s lead to 10-4 in a sign of things to come. The Wilson team would never regain the lead.

Griner, a Phoenix Mercury center, finished with a game-high 18 points and 13 rebounds in his eighth All-Star appearance. Loyd, a Seattle Storm guard and the WNBA’s leading scorer (25.7 points per game), led the scoring effort with an All-Star Game-high 31 points alongside 6 assists and 4 rebounds.

Team Stewart kept the gas on with a Griner transition dunk late in the first quarter to extend their advantage to 23-16.

Then the four points began to fall.

Each side of the court was lined with two hoops placed 28 feet from the basket. If a player kicked with her foot anywhere in the circle, the bucket was worth four points. The teams combined to make it nine in the first half. Three of them were courtesy of new 3-point champion Sabrina Ionescu, who scored 15 points in the first half off the bench for Team Stewart.

But the long-range spotlight belonged to Loyd on Saturday, who combined to connect on 10 of 21 3- and 4-point shots.

Team Stewart extended their halftime lead to 73-63 and entered the fourth quarter with a 110-93 advantage. At the end of the fourth quarter, the only question that remained was whether Loyd would break the All-Star Game scoring record. She answered it with a 3-pointer with 2:17 remaining to reach 31 points.

Loyd’s mark broke the previous record of 30 held by Maya Moore and Aces guard Kelsey Plum, who reached the mark as the game’s MVP last season. When she was named MVP on Saturday, Loyd received a trophy worthy of that honor.

Stewart, who drafted the winning team as captain, was happy to play a supporting role on the field. She scored her first bucket in the final minute of the first half and finished with 9 points and 9 assists. Ionescu finished with 18 after posting 15 in the first half.

Plum tied his old scoring record with 30 points off the bench for the losing team. She was one of three Aces players on the team drafted by teammate A’ja Wilson playing the All-Star Game at home. Wilson finished with 20 points and five rebounds while Chelsea Gray added 5 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists. Indiana rookie and No. 1 overall Aliyah Boston had 6 points and a team-high 11 rebounds in his All-Star Game debut.

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