LAS VEGAS -- There was a Tennessee connection for the winners of both the 3-point shooting contest and the skills challenge at WNBA All-Star Weekend.
Connecticut's Shekinna Stricklen edged hometown favorite Kayla McBride of the Las Vegas Aces 23-22 in the 3-point final Friday at Mandalay Bay Events Center. In the skills challenge, Chicago's Diamond DeShields struggled in the pass portion of the final, but she still recovered to beat Connecticut's Jonquel Jones.
Stricklen played collegiately at Tennessee from 2008 to 2012, and her senior season was coach Pat Summitt's last on the Lady Vols' bench. DeShields started her career at North Carolina in 2013, but she transferred to Tennessee and played there from 2015 to 2017. The winners donated their $10,000 prize to charities.
Stricklen's check went to Room 29:11, which provides supplies for foster-care guardians in her home state of Arkansas. DeShields' check went to Hoops 2O, which was founded by Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon and raises funds and awareness for clean-water initiatives in East Africa.
The skills challenge returned to All-Star Weekend after a multiyear absence, and it was combined with the 3-point contest on Friday night. The WNBA All-Star Game is Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC.
"The energy was amazing," DeShields said. "We tried to do everything we could to make it fun for fans, and I think they enjoyed themselves. This is our job, but we're out here to entertain people. I think it's important for the league to embrace that."
McBride led off the 3-point contest with 22 points, and then Stricklen was the next-to-last competitor of the first round. She got 21, and thought for sure it wouldn't hold up because two-time defending champion Allie Quigley was the last shooter. But Quigley finished with 19, sending McBride and Stricklen into the final.
McBride, who was also runner-up last year in Minnesota, watched as Stricklen put up a score of 23 in the final. With the home crowd cheering her on, McBride almost got the title, but she came up short with 22 points.
"I'm still kind of in shock," said Stricklen, who has 45 3-pointers this WNBA season, second to Quigley's 51. "I thought I needed between 25-27."
In the skills challenge, DeShields eliminated Minnesota's Odyssey Sims and Elizabeth Williams to make the final. Then she struggled in the pass portion of the final but still recovered to beat Connecticut's Jonquel Jones.
The competition featured players dribbling past obstacles, having to make a pass into a cylinder, making a layup, and then a 3-pointer. Phoenix's Brittney Griner didn't advance out of the first round of the skills competition, but she did a dunk instead of a layup.