The pressure was mounting and both the Eastern Conference and Western Conference All-Stars had ramped up the defense in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s Boost Mobile WNBA All-Star Game 2015. Each team had spent much of the quarter trading baskets — three-pointer after three-pointer.
With just under three minutes to play, each team gathered around their coaches during a timeout. It was a one-point game, the Western Conference team on top, 105-104.
And then, like she’s done time and time again throughout her career, Maya Moore – a player near and dear to Connecticut’s heart – decided it was time to take over. Moore used a personal 8-0 run to help push the West by the East, 117-112.
“The last three minutes there was a timeout with about 2:51 to go,” Moore said, “and both huddles were probably saying the same thing: it’s time to win this. It was a one-point game at that point. The last few minutes we were definitely trying to win. You turn it up a little bit: Run a little bit faster, cut a little bit harder.”
Moore’s 30-point performance, which broke the WNBA All-Star Game’s single-game scoring record, earned her MVP honors. She finished with 30 points on 10-of-16 shooting while adding six rebounds and five assists.
Tina Charles is no stranger to witnessing a huge game from Moore, especially on Connecticut soil. The two played together at the University of Connecticut and have also been teammates with USA Basketball. So, when Moore came out in the fourth quarter, hit a few shots and got the fans inside Mohegan Sun Arena excited, it was nothing out of the ordinary to Charles.
“It’s like a video game,” Charles said when asked about Moore’s fourth quarter. “She’s just possessed and that’s just her – she gets that face, that demeanor out there on the court or at practice. She’s just a great player. I don’t think she knows any other style of play except that one way, just going out and competing. … Us going to class [at Connecticut] and her being the first one to get there – we left at the same time. Little things, she just loves winning. That’s just Maya.”
“It’s really fun to be able to play well in front of a crowd that is going to appreciate it,” Moore commented.
The Western Conference All-Stars were led by Phoenix Mercury head coach Sandy Brondello, who already coaches three of this year’s All-Stars in Candice Dupree, Brittney Griner and DeWanna Bonner. Most coaches would love to be able to look down their bench and draw up plays for that trio.
On Saturday, though, she was in a different position. With the game on the line and the pressure mounting, it was a much different feeling when Moore poured in buckets.
“She’s one of the player’s that is like, ‘No, we’ve got to win this. We’ve got to win this,’” Brondello said. “And I’m preaching kind of the same thing. It’s great to have the opportunity just to coach her. She’s an amazing, amazing athlete. It’s pretty special, especially in crunch time. We’ve all seen her do it over her whole career, both in college and the pro leagues. She knows how to put the ball in the hole.”