Douglas’ 3-pointer leads East to WNBA All-Star win
SAN ANTONIO (AP) – There were the record number of first-time WNBA All-Stars, and a halftime ceremony honoring the best players in WNBA history. Indiana Fever guard Katie Douglas didn’t fit into either category.
So she made her mark another way.
The four-time All-Star capped one of the closest WNBA midseason showcases ever by hitting the go-ahead 3-pointer with 56.7 seconds left, and the Eastern Conference hung on for just its third All-Star game victory over the West, 118-113 on Saturday.
“We got together during practice and the first thing we said was that we wanted to win,” said New York Liberty guard Cappie Pondexter, who led the East with 17 points. “Alongside of having fun we wanted to be victorious today and we accomplished that. Good job.”
At halftime, Pondexter was also named one of the WNBA’s Top 15 players of all-time, in celebration of this league’s 15th season.
Douglas finished with 15 points and helped the East win just its third All-Star game in 10 tries – but also third in the last four. Connecticut Sun center Tina Charles scored 15, and headlined a record group of 10 players who made their All-Star debuts in this year’s game.
Swin Cash led the West with 21 points and 12 rebounds and was named MVP for the second time. Former WNBA star Lisa Leslie is the only other player with multiple All-Star MVP awards.
Cash, the Seattle Storm’s four-time All-Star, was also named MVP in 2009. She is also the league’s first All-Star MVP from the losing team.
“I think so many players played well. It could’ve been anyone,” Cash said.
The four-time All-Star singled out Rebekkah Brunson, who had 20 points and nine rebounds for the West. Brunson started in place of Los Angeles Sparks center Candace Parker, who is out due to a knee injury and still has yet to play in an All-Star game despite ranking among the WNBA’s elite players since her 2008 rookie year.
Parker’s next chance may not come until 2013. Next summer is the Olympics, and the league may cancel the game – as it did in 2008 – while its biggest names play for the U.S. national team.
“We’re thrilled that it’s an Olympic year, and we’ll obviously build our schedule to accommodate that,” WNBA president Laurel Richie said before the game.
Neither side led by more than five points. The West’s last chance came down to San Antonio’s Becky Hammon scrambling to shoot a 3-pointer, but she instead found herself without an open shot and nowhere to pass. Her desperate bid to escape a trap ended with her whistled for traveling with 3.5 seconds left.
“I think about midway through the fourth quarter both teams decided they wanted to win,” Hammon said. “We just came up a little bit short today.”
It was a disappointing end in an otherwise humbling day for Hammon, who was among the 15 current and former WNBA players named as the league’s best ever. All-Stars Sue Bird, Tamika Catchings and Diana Taurasi also made the list.
“I was young when the WNBA started, at the end of my high school career,” Bird said. “I watched them on TV and watched them in the Olympics. To be in the same group as those players is such an honor.”
Tulsa’s Liz Cambage, a late All-Star addition in place of Parker, scored 13 points for the West. Taurasi also had 13 points and Phoenix’s Penny Taylor added 11.
New York’s Essence Carson scored 13 points off the bench for the East and Connecticut’s Renee Montgomery added 12. Catchings, playing in her seventh All-Star game, finished with 11 points.
Douglas’ 3 summed up how the East won the game. The East shot 47 percent from behind the arc while hitting 16 3s, more than twice as many as the West. Douglas, Carson and Montgomery each hit three 3s.
It was the East’s first victory since 2007, when it won 103-99.