It was a day filled with stars at the Verizon Center today as the best players in the WNBA showcased their skills in front of a packed house and at the end of the evening it was the East taking the title from the West 103-99 behind Cheryl Ford’s16 points, 13 rebounds and five assists.
I think I’m still in shock, Ford said about raising the MVP trophy over her head. It’s a great award; it’s a great achievement for me and for the Detroit Shock organization. It’s a great feeling. I guess I just had the hot hand today and coach kept giving me the ball.
Ford’s amazing performance was a huge help to push the East to a victory in the fourht quarter, but she got some much needed help from Tamika Catchings who had 15 points and 11 rebounds, DeLisha Milton-Jones and Deanna Nolan scored 11 points apiece and Asjha Jones had 10 to help the East hold on after nearly squandering a 12-point lead in the final two minutes of the game.
The West behind some quick shooting of Lauren Jackson and Becky Hammon, gave the West once more chance to make this game after she hit a three triggering a 11-2 run.
“They came back, hit some threes, some steals, and rebound,” Catchings said. “But we won and that’s all that matters.”
Indiana’s Anna DeForge knocked down a jumper with 39 seconds left and the headline saying How the West did not win, as they ran out of time to answer again.
For the Mystics players Milton-Jones and Alana Beard it was a great atmosphere to have a crowd like this (19,487) at Verizon Center.
“Man, if only we could play in an arena like this every night,” she said. “It was amazing to see.”
This was the league’s closest All-Star game, topping the West’s 81-76 victory in 2002 – also in Washington. The East’s total was only the second time either squad topped 100, and trailed the West’s 122 points in 2005.
Prior to the game the loudest cheers came from another Mystics player, Laurie Koehn, who participated in the three point shootout with some of the best including Penny Taylor and Diana Taurasi from Phoenix. While Koehn has been used sparingly off the bench this season, she has been known to pull the trigger from long range and that is exactly what she did by winning the three point shootout scorching the nets for a contest-record 25 points.
For the fans to come out and be as supportive as they were (was special), said Koehn. When we were warming up they were chanting my name. It just means a lot to win it in front of them. I definitely fed off the crowd.
Koehn’s total also matched the NBA record of 25 points in a single round set by Craig Hodges in 1986.
Before Koehn left the fans standing, it was the speedy Becky Hammon that thrilled the crowd. Becky took the challenge and put up one of the best performance the event had ever seen, finishing off a perfect round in 27.1 seconds. Only Sue Bird, who was unable to attend the All-Star Game due to injury, posted a better time with the event-record 26.5 seconds at the 2005 All-Star Game.
Most fans in attendance said this is one of the best All Star games played to date. Activites included a welcome party yesterday evening for VIP’s and players that included a performance by grammy award winner Vanessa Carlton. Another musical star, Mya performed at halftime of today’s game along with a team of dancers.
Prior to the game today, WNBA President Donna Orender spoke about the future of the league and the possibility of adding other expansion teams to the league.
“We have discussed this before and we are always looking for ways to expand the league and make womens sports more visible on all platforms. I think you will see the support today that these women have built in the 10 years the league has been in existance,” said Orender.