INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Stephen Curry was on a roll — and it was barely enough to beat Sabrina Ionescu.

And fittingly, he won by three.

The Golden State star and NBA’s all-time 3-point king beat Ionescu 29-26 in the Steph vs. Sabrina competition at All-Star Saturday night, the first such him-vs.-her event of its kind at the league’s weekend showcase.

“For us to deliver a show like that, it was perfect,” Curry said. “As much excitement as you can build in that short amount of time with two great shooters going at it. This is something we’ll remember for a long time.”

Ionescu won the WNBA’s 3-point shootout at its All-Star weekend last year with a record 37 points, smashing Curry’s NBA shootout mark of 31 points. From there, a challenge was thrown down and the plan was concocted for them to meet at All-Star weekend.

So they did, and it felt like the main event of the night.

“Hopefully, this isn’t the last time we do this,” Ionescu said.

Given how the fans — and really, everybody from both the NBA and WNBA — seemed to love it, it likely won’t be the last time, especially since Curry and Ionescu talked afterward about adding partners to the mix next year when All-Star weekend just happens to be in San Francisco, the area where he plays and she calls home.

Curry’s prize was a championship belt, with images of goats — as in, GOATs — on either side.

And he’s the shooting GOAT, without question. But Ionescu, the New York Liberty star, almost gave him more than he could handle.

Ionescu went first and made 18 of 27 shots — starting 7 for 7. Some of them were worth one point, some worth two, giving her a total of 26 points.

She shot from the NBA 3-point line, which is roughly 12 to 18 inches farther from the basket than the WNBA line, depending on the area of the floor. Ionescu used a WNBA ball, which is slightly smaller than the NBA ball Curry used.

Curry had to rally a bit at the end, making nine of his last 10 to finish off the win.

Combined, they shot 39 for 54 (72%) in a contest with unconventional elements like a lime-green glass floor in a football stadium with the world watching.

“This was so authentic for the both of us to be able to be here, finally not in a closed gym, shooting in front of everyone watching and understanding what it means for ourselves but also the bigger picture,” said Ionescu, who has beaten Curry in a H-O-R-S-E competition before without millions of people watching on television. “This is where I wanted to be. … It’s changed the landscape of how people view what we’re doing.”

There’s no rivalry between the two, even though Curry heckled Ionescu during her rehearsal shooting session on Friday. He was booing her as she shot.

“Trying to apply some pressure, for sure,” Curry said.

The reality is he’s been inspiring Ionescu for more than half her life. Ionescu’s family had season tickets to Warriors games. He gave her a high-five once when he was in the tunnel connecting the locker room and the court. She had a photo of him as her screensaver.

Years later, when Ionescu was starring at Oregon, she was the one high-fiving Curry’s daughters — who love her. And on Saturday, Ionescu said the experience of just being part of something so unique on the All-Star stage taught her a key lesson.

“To just keep believing in myself,” she said. “You know, 10 years ago, I never would have thought this was possible. And so being able to be up here … it’s a blessing and an opportunity to even be in the same conversation as Steph and to be able to see how much he’s respected me as a player and a basketball player and a person to want to come out here and do this.”

The competition raised money for each of their foundations, and when it was over, Curry left with the belt — but they both left more than happy.

“I don’t know what’s going to come out of it, but me and Sabrina talked about how cool of an opportunity it is to do something that’s never been done before in our game,” Curry said. “And for her to have a presence on this stage is going to do a lot to inspire the next generation of young boys and girls that want to compete and see themselves in either one of us. Wherever it goes from there, we know we can kind of plant our flag as doing something really special.”


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