Erica Wheeler leads Team Wilson past Team Delle Donne, named MVP in WNBA All-Star Game

A record-tying seven 3-pointers from Erica Wheeler led Team Wilson past Team Delle Donne in the WNBA All-Star Game on Saturday afternoon.
A record-tying seven 3-pointers from Erica Wheeler led Team Wilson past Team Delle Donne in the WNBA All-Star Game on Saturday afternoon. (AP/John Locher)

Despite their team captain not seeing the floor, Team Wilson held on late to pick up the win in the WNBA All-Star Game on Saturday afternoon in Las Vegas.

Team Wilson, captained by Las Vegas Aces star A’ja Wilson, knocked off Team Delle Donne, captained by Washington Mystics star Elena Delle Donne, 129-126 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

Wilson suffered a sprained ankle earlier this month, and was replaced in the starting lineup by Chicago Sky guard Allie Quigley. Her absence, however, didn’t slow her team down much — thanks largely to Erica Wheeler.

The Indiana Fever guard finished with a game-high 25 points and seven assists, shooting 9-of-17 from the field. She hit six three-pointers in the first half, too, coming up just one short of matching the WNBA All-Star game record while leading her team to a 14-point lead at the break.

While Team Delle Donne cut the lead down to just five points with less than two minutes left, their run simply came too late. A late Wheeler 3-pointer sealed the deal for Team Wilson, giving them the 3-point win.

Quigley and Natasha Howard each added 14 points for Team Wilson in the win, and Diamond DeShields and Kayla McBride each put up 13 points.

Wheeler named MVP, dedicates win to late mother

After her impressive shooting performance, it was only right that Wheeler was named the All-Star Game MVP.

Wheeler, who was named to her first All-Star game this season, became the first undrafted player in league history to earn the MVP award, too. During a season where she’s putting up career numbers in multiple categories — she’s averaged 12.3 points and 5.8 rebounds per game with the Fever so far — it’s understandable that Wheeler was emotional when accepting the coveted award.

“Just never give up, man,” Wheeler told ESPN’s Holly Rowe after the game. “Just never give up, no matter what nobody tell you. Just keep moving.”

Wheeler dedicated her MVP performance to her mother, too, who died after a battle with cancer while she was in college.

“I use my mom as my motivation,” Wheeler said with tears in her eyes. “I lost her when I was in college to cancer, so I just keep moving because I know she’s watching me more than ever. This one right here is for you, mom.”

Brittney Griner throws down early, often

Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner showed off her dunking skills multiple times on Saturday afternoon — especially in the first half.

After bringing the ball up the court herself in the first quarter, Griner easily found her lane to the hoop and completed the one-handed slam. Then, about a minute later, Griner caught a perfect pass from Delle Donne down low and finished at the rim.

Griner dunked a third time later in the first half, too, catching an outlet pass before completing the two-handed slam.

Griner finished with 16 points and nine rebounds, having shot 8-of-18 from the field. Nneka Ogwumike led Team Delle Donne with 22 points and six rebounds off the bench, shooting an impressive 11-of-15 from the field. Kristi Toliver added 16 points herself off the bench, and Kia Nurse dropped 15. Delle Donne finished with six points, six assists and five rebounds.

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