CHICAGO (AP) — Kiki Rice soaked it all in playing in the home of the reigning WNBA champions, then took MVP honors along with her future teammate at UCLA.
Rice scored 17 points, and the East beat the West 95-75 in the McDonald’s All-American Game at Wintrust Arena on Tuesday.
Rice made 7 of 10 shots. She and future college teammate Gabriela Jaquez were co-MVPs.
“Being a McDonald’s All-American was a dream of mine for so long,” Rice said. “To be co-MVP with my future UCLA teammate just makes the experience so much more special. That was a super fun and exciting past few days. I think the future’s bright.”
South Carolina-bound Talaysia Cooper and Ta’Niya Latson added 15 points apiece. Chance Gray, headed to Oregon, scored 14. Janiah Barker added 12 points — all in the first half — to help the East roll to an easy win in the first McDonald’s game since 2019. The event featuring the nation’s best players was canceled the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jaquez led the West with 17 points and nine rebounds.
“Just being out there with all the girls, playing against such great competition, playing with great players, was a great experience,” she said. “And being in that atmosphere, there’s nothing really like that, just getting me ready for college. Go Bruins. Go Kiki.”
The East played like a team that had been together for awhile, particularly in the early going. Playing in the Chicago Sky’s arena, they grabbed a 51-36 halftime advantage.
“When you put such an unselfish group of girls together, I think it showed on the court,” Rice said. “From Day 1 in practice, you could see the talent each of us had individually, but also a willingness to give the ball up, to share the ball, to make each other better. That’s what this whole experience is all about.”
Barker delivered in a big way as the East took control.
The 6-foot-2 forward from Florida, who decommitted from Georgia following a coaching change, hit two 3-pointers in the half. She nailed one from the top of the key to cap a 15-0 run at the start of the second quarter that made it 37-18.
Latson, a 5-9 guard bound for Florida State, had a three-point play and 3-pointer on consecutive possessions for the East late in the quarter. Paris Clark of Long Island Lutheran blocked a fast-break layup by future Arizona teammate Maya Nnaji of Hopkins, Minnesota. The East remained in control the rest of the way.